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Ex-ESPN star Bob Ley on LIV Golf criticism: Should the same ‘scandal’ be extended to the NBA?

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Former ESPN reporter Bob Ley wondered in a recent podcast interview if the same criticism of LIV Golf and its ties to Saudi Arabia should be applied to the NBA and its ties to China. .

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Ley appeared on Michelle Beadle’s podcast “What Did I Miss?” And the two former ESPN personalities have spoken of sportswashing amid LIV Golf’s emergence.

The rival golf tour and players who joined the league have come under scrutiny and are accused of helping Saudi Arabia use sports washing to soften criticism over human rights abuses in the kingdom.

Many players accepted large sums of money to join the league, but most played down the money as their reason for joining the league and leaving the PGA Tour.

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Longtime ESPN anchor Bob Ley, right, speaks with ESPN’s chief coordinating officer, Chip Dean, at the company’s 40th anniversary celebration on Friday.
(Getty Pictures)

Ley told Beadle on the podcast that the same degree of scrutiny should apply to the NBA’s relationship with China.

“The LIV Golf thing sparked a practical and easy fury of outrage, not that I disagree at all. … It’s really easy to be p —– and mad at LIV Golf and Saudi. All I ask is philosophical and ideological consistency. Apply it to China consistently, LeBron,” he said.

Ley mentioned the NBA’s response to former Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet of support for Hong Kong protesters in 2019. The tweet put the NBA’s relationship with China at an impasse, which which then opened the door to the proximity of the two entities. The result was a blackout of NBA games in China for several months, costing the league millions.

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LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman stands on a tee during the final round of the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational at the Centurion Club in St. Albans, England on June 11, 2022.

LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman stands on a tee during the final round of the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational at the Centurion Club in St. Albans, England on June 11, 2022.
(AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

“There were other reports. I mean, the Fainaru brothers on ESPN.com showed some of the things with the camps and the knowledge of what the NBA is involved in,” Ley said. “China has as many problems as any other country, and is the outrage tempered by the sport’s popularity and the dollars at stake?”

He also specifically mentioned that LeBron James had an “opportunity” to lift the curtain on the matter. He did not do it. James’ Los Angeles Lakers team was in China when the fallout from the tweet began. He waited until everyone was back in the United States to make a statement.

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James shoots a free throw during a game against the Detroit Pistons on November 28, 2021 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James shoots a free throw during a game against the Detroit Pistons on November 28, 2021 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
(Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

“LeBron, I think, has a greater responsibility and opportunity.” said Ley. “And it’s easy for people to come to the conclusion that players, at a time when social voice and fairness are integral to sport, more than ever before, here’s an opportunity to take a stand.

“If you’re a billionaire, maybe you can afford to take a stand and at least educate yourself. Freedom of speech in China is a very different thing. Freedom of internet access is a very different thing. Y is there an opposition party in China? Oh no, not for 60 or 70 years. Are we comfortable dealing with a nation like that and putting everything on the table? These are questions people need to answer.

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“If you want to get into the scum about LIV Golf – and you have every right to – pause, take a deep breath and look at China. Should this outrage and soul-searching extend to the NBA? “

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