NBA superstar LeBron James has never been one to shy away from being vocal, even if it might create some controversy. He’s done that following his team’s recent preseason trip to China.
Just recently, he was asked for his thoughts about the tweet that Houston Rockets’ general manager Daryl Morey posted then deleted about China. Here’s what Morey’s tweet said and how LeBron responded, plus some of the reactions towards James’ comments.
What was Daryl Morey’s tweet about China?
In Hong Kong, protesting started up towards the government this year over their proposed Fugitive Offenders amendment bill.
The bill would give Hong Kong’s local authorities the power to detain and extradite criminal fugitives wanted in other territories including Taiwan and mainland China. Hong Kong doesn’t currently have extradition agreements with the regions mentioned in the bill.
Citizens opposed the idea of the bill as they believe it will subject those in Hong Kong and its visitors to the jurisdiction of mainland China and undermine the region’s autonomy and civil liberties.
Earlier this month, Daryl Morey posted a tweet in support of the protests which said: “Fight For Freedom Stand With Hong Kong.” He would go on to delete that tweet, but people on the internet managed to salvage it.
— Max Segal (@mxsgl) October 7, 2019
The timing of it all coincided with the NBA’s preseason trip to play games in China. That included recent games involving the Brooklyn Nets and LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers.
Morey’s tweet resulted in tensions between the league and China, which is considered the second biggest market for the NBA. It brought boycotts, cancelation of various events, and a gag order placed on the Lakers and Nets during last week’s visit, per Cleveland.com’s report.
According to ESPN, the Houston Rockets’ owner went on to denounce Morey’s tweet by saying the GM wasn’t speaking on behalf of the team. He also mentioned the Rockets are “not a political organization.”
What did LeBron say about Morey’s tweet?
Following the China trip, LeBron James spoke with the media and was asked various questions about the country’s political situation. LeBron mentioned not being informed enough to speak on what was going on there. When asked about the Rockets GM’s tweet, James said that Morey was “misinformed” about the ramifications of his tweet and wasn’t “educated about the situation.”
LeBron James speaks for the first time since the NBA's trip to China, says Rockets GM Daryl Morey was "misinformed" about the ramifications of his tweet, and "not educated about the situation." Here are LeBron's comments in full: pic.twitter.com/Rwjnchm2w3
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) October 15, 2019
In LeBron’s comments he told the media:
“I believe he was misinformed or not really educated on the situation,” James said regarding Morey. “If he was, so be it. I have no idea, but that’s my belief.”
James continued, “When you say things or do things, you’re doing it and know the things that can be affected by it and the families and individuals that can be affected by it. Sometimes it can be changed as well. Sometimes social media is not a proper way to go about things as well. That’s just my belief,” the Lakers star said.
LeBron tried to clarify comments criticizing Morey
James would go on Twitter to attempt to clarify his previous comments to the media. In tweets on Monday (Oct. 14) he said he felt Morey didn’t consider consequences and ramifications when tweeting. James also said he felt Morey “Could have waited a week to send it,” referring to after the NBA trip.
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
According to a report from The Athletic, LeBron wanted the league to address the situation in China before leaving players to answer media questions about it. James said he was worried about the players’ and personnel’s safety.
He also felt they were “being thrust into a position of having to speak publicly about such a complex and layered topic and the added complication that the U.S. is currently embroiled in a trade negotiation with China.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver met with the players upon their arrival to China to discuss the situation. Silver also released a statement that was sympathetic towards those offended by Morey’s tweet. He also defended Morey’s freedom of speech while saying the Rockets GM’s remarks were not representative of the league.
James draws backlash after comments
To say that James’ comments drew the ire of many individuals is an understatement. Senator Rick Scott tweeted out, “Clearly @KingJames is the one who isn’t educated on the situation at hand.”
“It’s sad to see him join the chorus kowtowing to Communist China & putting profits over human rights for #HongKong. I was there 2 weeks ago. They’re fighting for freedom & the autonomy they were promised.”
A lot of other people are reacting to LeBron’s comments with disgust that someone who didn’t attend high school and went straight to the NBA would call Daryl Morey “uneducated.”
This statement is unbelievable. “So many people could have been harmed”? By Daryl Morey daring to express sympathy for democracy? News flash: people ARE being harmed – shot, beaten, gassed – right now in Hong Kong. By China. By the Communist Party the NBA is so eager to appease
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) October 15, 2019
Others felt that LeBron’s statements showed his support of financial gain for the league, its teams, and players, rather than support for democracy or the people of China’s rights. Even fellow NBA player Enes Kanter gave his reaction to what LeBron said, reminding everyone “FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.”
Enes Kanter weighs in https://t.co/rVk32YqJAs
— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) October 15, 2019
And other commenters taunted James in the comments offering their “thoughts and prayers” for he and the Lakers’ “difficult week.” The Lakers may have taken several losses in their preseason games in China but LeBron appears to have taken a bigger “L” after his comments criticizing Morey.