LeBron James finally weighed in Monday on China’s NBA crackdown over an executive’s tweet in support of pro-democracy protesters, saying that Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey “wasn’t educated on the situation at hand.”
“I don’t want to get into a [verbal] feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand. And he spoke,” James said before his Los Angeles Lakers played the Golden State Warriors at Staple Center.
In his first public comments on the controversy, the NBA’s biggest star told reporters prior to Monday’s preseason game that “we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that, too.”
“And so many people could have been harmed not only financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually,” James said. “So just be careful what we tweet and say and we do, even though, yes, we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that, too.”
His comments were met immediately with backlash on social media from critics who accused him of kowtowing to China. State-controlled Chinese television and sponsors reacted to Morey’s Oct. 4 tweet with a boycott of the Rockets.
“Yes, Morey supported freedom so he isn’t ‘educated on the situation,’ that’s it,” tweeted conservative pundit Dana Loesch.
Asked why he thought Morey was ill-informed, James said, “I believe he was either misinformed or not really educated on the situation, and if he was, then so be it,” according to ESPN. “I have no idea, but that is just my belief.”
He continued: “Because when you say things or do things, if you are doing it and you know the people that can be affected by it and the families and individuals and everyone that can be affected by it, sometimes things can be changed as well. And also social media is not always the proper way to go about things as well, but that’s just my belief.”
Is it elitist to point out Daryl Morey went to both Northwestern & MIT, when LeBron calls him uneducated? I feel like that’s a woke twitter move. You have to be ashamed and never mention your degrees. But seriously..I feel as though Morey is profoundly more educated on this.— Britt McHenry (@BrittMcHenry) October 15, 2019
James, an outspoken social-justice advocate, also tweeted, “My team and my league just went through a difficult week,” prompting a flood of sarcastic responses.
LeBron James now claims that he had a “difficult week” earning millions of dollars to play basketball because someone promoted freedom for Hong Kong@KingJames, do you think the millions of people locked up in China’s communist concentration camps are having a good week? https://t.co/p9pMZ1a2N0— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) October 15, 2019
The NBA initially called the Morey tweet “regrettable,” after which commissioner Adam Silver backpedaled, saying that league officials are “not apologizing for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression.”
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