fter staying silent on the issue while in China, LeBron James has now spoken out on last week’s NBA-China mega drama, calling Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey “misinformed,” “not educated,” and “only thinking about himself” for tweeting out in support of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
Morey’s tweet ignited a massive shitstorm in China with numerous Chinese companies suspending their cooperation agreements with the NBA while Chinese broadcasters refused to show a pair of preseason games played in the country featuring James’ Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets.
Prior to a game in Los Angeles on Monday, James broke his silence on what he called a “very sensitive situation.”
I think when we all sit back and learn from the situation that happened, understand that what you could tweet or could say, and we all talk about this freedom of speech — yes, we do all have freedom of speech, but at times there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you’re not thinking about others and you’re only thinking about yourself.
I don’t want to get into a word 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 also physically, emotionally, spiritually. So be careful what we tweet, what we say, what we do, even though yes, we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that too.
James went on to say that he and his teammates had remained quiet about the situation because they were “not informed enough” about it. The NBA canceled all media availability for players during the China trip.
“I just think that when you’re misinformed or you’re not educated about something, and I’m just talking about the tweet itself, you never know the ramifications that can happen,” he said. “We all see what that did — not only for our league but for all of us in America, for people in China as well.”
LeBron James on NBA’s China controversy caused by Daryl Morey's comment on #HongKong : “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.” #HongKongProstestspic.twitter.com/Jg89ZumQCW
— Liam Stone石立安 (@liamstone_19) October 15, 2019
James is the NBA’s biggest star and has spoken up in the past on domestic issues in the United States, producing a documentary series ironically titled “Shut Up and Dribble” which looked at how NBA players were helping to bring social change.
He has been widely condemned on international social media for his comments on Morey and China with basketball fans accusing him of placing money ahead of ideals like democracy, liberty, and freedom of expression.
Memes are already spreading featuring James dressed in a red guard uniform or with his face on Tiananmen Gate.
— George Jarjour (@gjarjour) October 15, 2019
— ⚡️ “Stable” Genius Anti-CCP🌐⚡️ (@edwincwc) October 15, 2019
In response to the backlash, James tweeted a few clarifications on Monday night, claiming that he meant Morey was uninformed regarding the repercussions of the tweet, not the actual situation in Hong Kong.
“Others can talk about that,” he wrote before suggesting that Morey should have waited a week to send his tweet so that it would not have marred his team’s trip to China.
Let me clear up the confusion. I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of the tweet. I’m not discussing the substance. Others can talk About that.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 15, 2019
My team and this league just went through a difficult week. I think people need to understand what a tweet or statement can do to others. And I believe nobody stopped and considered what would happen. Could have waited a week to send it.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 15, 2019
This clarification doesn’t appear to have helped much.
Shut up and dribble, amirite?!?!?
— Needacoin (@needacoin) October 15, 2019
Sorry to hear about your rough week playing basketball for a lot of money… pic.twitter.com/78b7O37GHp
— EJL 🗽 (@EJL1984) October 15, 2019
After initially apologizing for hurting the feelings of the Chinese people, the NBA has voiced its support for Daryl Morey’s right to freedom of expression. Outspoken coaches like Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr have echoed this support but no one in the NBA has joined Morey in speaking up in favor of the Hong Kong protesters.
James joins Brooklyn Nets owner and Alibaba exec Joe Tsai in criticizing Morey. Tsai issued a statement last week which brought up the Boxer Rebellion and the Nanking Massacre in explaining why “1.4 billion” Chinese people were so outraged by Morey’s tweet while also calling the Hong Kong demonstrations a “separatist movement.”
For his part, Morey certainly doesn’t appear to have considered the ramifications of his tweet, which was simply an image that said: “Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” Morey did not stand with Hong Kong for long, deleting the tweet after a few hours once it started to catch fire.
He then went on to give a non-apology, explaining that he was “merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event” and that he had since had the opportunity to “hear and consider other perspectives.”