Report: NBA coaches at China academies complained of player abuse

Sam Amico

A wide-ranging report from ESPN revealed player abuse and other human rights violations were committed at the league's training academies in China.

The investigative piece was co-authored by Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada and was a damning representation of the league's ongoing relationship with the communist nation.

Perhaps no sports league in history has profited off of the Chinese fanbase as much as today's NBA. But given the current unrest and overall climate in China, the league has drawn sharp criticism from American politicians and sports fans.

According to the in-depth ESPN report, the NBA is now also drawing criticism and questions from its own employees.

"American coaches at three NBA training academies in China told league officials their Chinese partners were physically abusing young players and failing to provide schooling, even though commissioner Adam Silver had said that education would be central to the program, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the complaints," ESPN reported.

ESPN's investigation into the NBA-China relationship began in the fall, shortly after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for Hong Kong protesters who are fighting for democracy. ESPN wrote that the report "sheds new light on the lucrative NBA-China relationship and the costs of doing business with a government that suppresses free expression and is accused of cultural genocide." 

One coach who worked at the NBA academy in China told ESPN, "Imagine you have a kid who's 13, 14 years old, and you've got a grown coach who is 40 years old hitting your kid. We're part of that. The NBA is part of that."

The report also addresses the recent suspension of NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, who used a company email to reply "F*** you" to Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley's press release questioning the NBA's relationship with China.

That said, Wojnarowski did retweet a link to ESPN's investigative report, as did the SportsCenter twitter handle.

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