It has only been a little over a decade since the first US v China basketball team played each other in China. This year UCLA’s team was in Beijing for a big tournament. It was great to see America’s finest and brightest young men, all role models for sportsmanship. Now they are playing basketball with the Communist Chinese, really makes one proud.
This event was especially significant because in the cold war days China characterized us Americans as a bunch of hoodlums and gangsters. I know that for a fact, because I was one of the first Americans to tour China when they first opened their doors to us.
Of course back then, we were on our best behavior. We knew that we were de facto ambassadors by virtue of just being American citizens. We knew we were being judged by our conduct. We also had “minders” watching our every move too. We didn’t want to give them any excuse to have an incident and we didn’t.
Over the years our imagine has continued to improve, as many more thousands of American’s toured China and behaved quite exemplary. My last trip to China was through Chico State. We toured with our students who were also great kids. They performed a number of Chinese opera songs to the delight of the Chinese officials that hosted us in Beijing, Xian, Guangzhou and Singapore.
That was then and this now:
Two days ago three of UCLA’s premiere basketball players changed all that. They were just being themselves, shopping in a high-end Louis Vuitton store adjacent to their 5 star hotel in Beijing.
Suddenly all Hell broke loose and at least 20 angry cops showed up to arrest them. Why? These young men, these role models, were caught shoplifting…wha? No way!
No doubt, to their horror, they discovered that playing the race card in China doesn’t work. Also their celebrity status as basketball stars didn’t either as the police screamed at them. They were allegedly handcuffed, and taken straight to jail.
The father of one of the arrested, himself a basketball coach and known for his outspoken antics on the court shrugged off the arrest. He said, “It’s no big deal.” He would be right, if it had happened here. But, 6000 miles away in China…no, it’s a big deal, believe it.
China is notoriously brutal on even minor crime. They don’t kid around.
In liberal California the worst they would have gotten was a ticket. However, if convicted in China, they face 10 years at hard labor and there’s no time off for good behavior. It’s 10 years…period. The only thing that now stands between them and a prison cell, could be their Representative Maxine Waters. Waters ought to go over great in China. Or it could be the goodwill President Trump has with China’s president? I’m hoping Maxine goes over to save these kids. Heck, they don’t need or want ol Trump’s help! Maxine is their best bet, she will set those commies straight!