Here’s something you see about as often as a MAGA hat hanging in an NBA locker. Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz, one of the league’s front-line players, actually spoke out about China, specifically the atrocities committed against Uyghur Muslims.
“Wrong is wrong,” Gobert wrote on Instagram while sharing a post from actor and producer Omar Sy, which explained the situation for Uyghurs in China.
“Millions of Uyghur Muslims are detained and tortured in concentration camps in China,” Sy wrote. “Not for what they do, but for who they are.” “It is the largest mass incarceration of the 21st century. It has to end,” he added.
It would not be an exaggeration to say what Gobert did is moderately historic. If he’s not the first NBA player who’s done it, he’s certainly the highest profile. If his name sounds familiar, it should. Gobert made headlines in March when he was the first professional athlete to be diagnosed with COVID-19, and his positive test essentially shut down all professional sports for months. The NBA immediately canceled that game and then put the entire season on hold. Just days before his positive test, Gobert mocked the idea of contracting the disease by touching microphones in a joking manner during a team press conference.
Gobert’s stance in condemning China shows tremendous courage. The NBA did not include any mentions of China for its approved list of social justice phrases that players can wear on their jerseys.