Here is an article from Jemelle Hill about the role of politics in the the NBA-China story compared to how conservatives reacted to pro golfers playing in Saudi. It's Jemelle Hill so the take is painfully predictable but the piece itself is a good example of how sports are now part of the cultural and political wars.
But the relative silence greeting these pro golfers’ decision to play in Saudi Arabia only proves just how fake and disingenuous the outrage directed at the NBA actually was.
The China controversy was just a convenient tool used to taunt the NBA because several of the league’s biggest stars have excoriated Trump and been outspoken about the social injustices that African Americans suffer all the time. When the president chimed in, he made sure to belittle NBA coaches Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich, because both have used their high public profiles to disparage the president on several occasions. China’s move against the Rockets gave Trump license to retaliate against his own critics.
The content of the article is not really worth getting into. The articles existence is the key point. Some golfers playing in a tournament in Saudi Arabia is all that is needed to launch yet another political attack.
The article also highlights a coming challenge for sports. If the US market is saturated then the best bet for growth is international expansion. But international expansion means expansion into other cultures. Outside of Western Europe how many lucrative and non-controversial markets exist?