TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Despite having over a week to "educate" himself about a tweet sent by the manager of the Houston Rockets in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, NBA superstar LeBron James bizarrely claimed the owner "wasn't educated" about the situation.
Eight days after the controversy began with a short tweet by Houston Rockets manager Daryl Morey in support of Hong Kong protesters, James double dribbled into the controversy by giving reporters his ill-conceived take on the matter Monday night (Oct. 14) before a game in Los Angeles. James, a champion of social injustice issues in his own country, was oddly tone-deaf to the suffering of Hong Kong citizens fighting for their rights promised under the Basic Law.
James started by recognizing that NBA players have freedom of speech, but he quickly chastised Morey for creating negative ramifications and "only thinking about yourself." An odd comment, given that the original tweet was directed at millions of protesters in Hong Kong suffering daily atrocities inflicted by a government hand-picked by Beijing.
Yield to China money pic.twitter.com/8R5g1WP4sf— Brian Yip (@BrianYip0) October 15, 2019
Incredibly, James then asserted that Morey "wasn't educated on the situation at hand." At no point in his statement does James mention the existence of largely peaceful protests by millions of Hong Kong citizens and the brutal crackdown they have faced at the hands of police over the past four months.
He goes on to say, "So many people could have been harmed, not only financially but physically, emotionally, spiritually," which would well describe the suffering of the Hong Kong people over the past four months. However, it is evident that he is referring to the "harm" suffered by NBA players in terms of the potential loss of the 10 percent of the NBA's revenues that come from the communist country.
Straight out of a communist propaganda manual, James closes by warning of "a lot of negative" that comes from freedom of speech.
The controversy first took shape on Oct. 6 after Morey published a tweet that showed support for the public protests in Hong Kong. Morey’s original tweet was an image that read “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”
Morey quickly deleted the tweet after sharing it, but a cycle of internet outrage among Chinese netizens had already begun. By that evening, the outrage in China had already reached the heads of major businesses and organizations, which threatened to boycott the Rockets and even the entire NBA.
CBA is more suitable to u pic.twitter.com/l0zfqus4h1— heunggongyan (@heunggongyan4) October 15, 2019
That same day, NBA spokesman Mike Bass released a statement describing Morey's tweet as "regrettable" and said it had "deeply offended" many Chinese fans. Bass then insisted that the tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA and sycophantically praised the "history and culture of China."
However, this soon led to a backlash among American fans and U.S. congressmen and ridicule from comedians and the cartoon comedy "South Park." On Oct. 8, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said, "The long-held values of the NBA are to support the freedom of expression and certainly freedom of expression by members of the NBA community. And in this case, Daryl Morey, as general manager of the Houston Rockets, enjoys that right as one of our employees."
China's CCTV, Tencent, and Vivo retaliated by saying that they would halt broadcasts of NBA games and suspend ties with the organization. The NBA has since been on damage control in China while maintaining a modicum of freedom of expression for its employees and a shred of integrity in the West.
The following is James' full response to the question."
"Yes, we do have freedom of speech. But at times, there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you're not thinking about others, when you only think about yourself. I don't want to get into a word or sentence feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn't educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke. So many people could have been harmed, not only financially but physically, emotionally, spiritually. So just be careful what we tweet and what we say and what we do. Even though yes, we do have freedom of speech, it can be a lot of negative that comes with it."
Lakers’ LeBron James on NBA’s China controversy: “I don’t want to get into a ... feud with Daryl Morey but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand and he spoke.” pic.twitter.com/KKrMNU0dKR— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) October 15, 2019