The Golden State Warriors on Monday distanced themselves from billionaire Chamath Palihapitiya, who recently stated on a podcast that "nobody cares what happens to the Uyghurs."
Palihapitiya, who owns a minority stake in the Warriors, addressed what he described as "a very hard, ugly fact" regarding China's treatment of its Uyghur minority-muslim community in the Xinjiang autonomous area.
"No one is concerned with what is happening to the Uyghurs. You bring it up because you care, and I think that's admirable because the rest of us don't," Palihapitiya explained.
"I'm going to tell you a really difficult, ugly truth. Yes, it is under my line, of all the things I care about," e stated.
The Warriors' public relations department published a statement describing Palihapitiya as a "limited investor who has no day-to-day operational responsibilities with the Warriors."
The PR continued by stating that Palihapitiya "does not speak" for the franchise and that his views most emphatically do not reflect those of the organization.
Palihapitiya made the comment during a conversation with his co-hosts, internet entrepreneur Jason Calacanis and early Google employee David Friedberg, about President Biden's popularity and policies.
The NBA has come under fire for its operations in China, which the Biden administration sanctioned in the wake of allegations of abuse of the predominantly Muslim Uyghur ethnic minority.
Sanctions were implemented in December in response to claims of Chinese repression and human rights breaches against Uyghurs.
Palihapitiya stated that while he is concerned about climate change and the economic consequences of China invading Taiwan, he believes the U.S. should focus on its own problems with the Uyghurs.
"Fix your own internal backyard, because you are the ones... you have a position of power that the rest of us do not. Thus, once you've cleaned up the interior, we may move on to repairing the outside," Palihapitiya said.
Palihapitiya's comments gathered stern reactions on social media, including this post from Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter:
"When genocides occur, it is people like this that let it happen. Shame!"
The NBA has historically had a tense relationship with China. In 2019, a single tweet from then-Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey expressing sympathy for pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong resulted in the league's suspension from the country's state broadcaster CCTV.
It took more than a year before the Chinese government would again allow league games on state TV.