SAN FRANCISCO — Billionaire Chamath Palihapitiya, a minority owner of the Golden State Warriors, is under fire for saying “nobody cares” about the Uyghurs in China, and the team is distancing itself from him.
On the latest edition of his All-In Podcast, Palihapitiya dismissed the situation in China, which is accused by the U.S. of genocide and crimes against humanity because of the treatment of the Uyghurs Muslim minority population in the Xinjiang region in northwest China.
“Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs, OK?” Palihapitiya said at the nearly 15-minute mark of the show from Saturday. “… I’m telling you a very hard, ugly truth, OK, of all the things that I care about, yes it is below my line.”
Golden State swiftly reacted Monday by saying Palihapitiya’s views aren’t reflective of those of the team.
“As a limited investor who has no day-to-day operating functions with the Warriors, Mr. Palihapitiya does not speak on behalf of our franchise, and his views certainly don’t reflect those of our organization,” the Warriors said in a statement.
Palihapitiya, who was born in Sri Lanka, later backtracked. In a Twitter post to his 1.5 million followers, he wrote that “important issues deserve nuanced discussions. Some clarifying comments:
“In re-listening to this week’s podcast, I recognize that I come across as lacking empathy. I acknowledge that entirely. As a refugee, my family fled a country with its own set of human rights issues so this is something that is very much a part of my lived experience. To be clear, my belief is that human rights matter, whether in China, the United States, or elsewhere. Full stop.”
Swiss-born Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter Freedom expressed his outrage on social media.
“When @NBA says we stand for justice, don’t forget there are those who sell their soul for money & business like @chamath the owner of @warriors who says `Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs.’ When genocides happen, it is people like this that let it happen. Shame!”
After Tuesday’s shootaround, Warriors star Andrew Wiggins was asked about Palihapitiya’s comments and made it clear they have different beliefs.