- On Monday, LeBron James responded to the NBA’s controversy in China stemming from Daryl Morey’s pro-Hong Kong tweet by saying he didn’t think Morey was “educated on the situation.”
- James said that there were ramifications to free speech and that people could have been hurt financially, physically, and emotionally by Morey’s tweet.
- Some in the sports world criticised James’ comments.
- James took to Twitter later to say he meant Morey was uneducated on the potential ramifications of his tweet, not the “substance.”
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On Monday, LeBron James said he felt the Houston Rockets’ general manager, Daryl Morey, was not “educated” on the protests in Hong Kong when he sent a tweet supporting protesters, setting off a controversy between the NBA and China.
Speaking with reporters, James said he did not want to get into a “feud” with Morey and felt it should be handled behind closed doors. He said, however, that there were consequences to freedom of speech.
“We all talk about this freedom of speech,” James said. “Yes, we all do 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 in a word sentence feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke. And 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, but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that too.”
James took to Twitter shortly after to say he meant Morey was uneducated on the potential impact of his tweet, not on the substance of it.
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
Still, some criticised James for his initial comments.
so the natural follow up is: What does LeBron think the situation in China is, if Morey was misinformed? https://t.co/yt7jS5UigX
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) October 15, 2019
I actually can't believe that LeBron, who had DAYS to think about his answer, went with blaming Daryl Morey and saying that it was MOREY who was uneducated in speaking about the topic. And then suggests it was MOREY who was selfish here, instead of the Chinese government.
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) October 15, 2019
More Than An Athlete (unless it threatens business partnerships) https://t.co/bAcKlgx7VI
— Mike Prada. This is the way (@MikePradaSBN) October 15, 2019
"there are ramifications for not thinking about others and only thinking about yourself" is for sure a take when discussing a pro-democracy protest https://t.co/YkGmhu5Qhs
— Robby Kalland #BreadBoys (@RKalland) October 15, 2019
“It’s not in my best interests to talk about a complex issue I don’t know enough about”. What every NBA player probably should say now when asked about NBA/China crisis. https://t.co/gja72iYaNH
— Marc Berman (@NYPost_Berman) October 15, 2019
After Morey’s tweet, several Chinese businesses suspended operations with the Rockets and/or the NBA. The timing was awkward for the NBA, as the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets went to China shortly after Morey’s tweet to play a preseason game.
China has been a burgeoning market for the NBA, one the league has spent years developing as it has grown a large and passionate fan base in recent years. The NBA was initially criticised for its response to Chinese outrage to Morey’s tweet, as many accused the league of caring more about its bottom line than freedom of speech.
The NBA’s commissioner, Adam Silver, later made clear that the league would not apologise for Morey’s tweet, saying only that the outrage was unfortunate, and he hoped the two sides could move forward.
While the preseason game was not shown on Chinese TV, the game was played despite fears of it being cancelled.
Video of James’ comments can be seen below:
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
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