- Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal supported the Houston Rockets’ general manager, Daryl Morey, for his tweet expressing support for protesters in Hong Kong that ignited backlash in China against the NBA.
- The NBA legend’s comments came Tuesday night during a broadcast of “Inside the NBA” on TNT just minutes before the first game of the 2019-2020 NBA season tipped off.
- O’Neal said “one of our best values here in America is free speech” and defended Morey’s right to “speak up about injustices.”
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Just minutes before the first game of the 2019-2020 NBA season tipped off, Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal publicly defended the Houston Rockets’ general manager, Daryl Morey, for his tweet expressing support for protesters in Hong Kong that ignited backlash in China against the NBA.
During a broadcast of “Inside the NBA” on TNT on Tuesday night, the legendary centre and current sports television analyst said “Daryl Morey was right.”
“We, as American people, do a lot of business in China,” O’Neal began. “And they know and understand our values and we understand their values. And one of our best values here in America is free speech. We’re allowed to say what we want to say, and we’re allowed to speak up about injustices, and that’s just how it goes.”
“If people don’t understand that, that’s something they have to deal with,” he added.
O’Neal went on to say he understood how sometimes “you have to tiptoe around this” in the world of business, but he said that in the United States “we have the right to speak, especially with social media – we can say whatever we want to say, when we want to say it.”
In what was potentially an allusion to LeBron James’ incendiary comments on the NBA-China feud, O’Neal said the conflict had emboldened some people to speak “when they don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Well after Morey sent and then deleted his tweet, James told members of the press that he believed the GM “wasn’t educated on the situation at hand.” Those comments sparked a flood of social-media backlash, with many accusing James of prioritising compensation over morality even after he tweeted that he meant Morey was uneducated on the potential impact of his tweet rather than on its content.
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
The NBA’s commissioner, Adam Silver, has said the league will not apologise for Morey’s tweet but has described the conflict as unfortunate.
O’Neal was stronger in his defence of Morey, saying that “whenever you see something wrong going on anywhere in the world, you should have the right to say, ‘That’s not right,’ and that’s what he did.”
A video of O’Neal’s comments can be seen below:
Shaq on Daryl Morey/China "One of our best values here in America is free speech we're allowed to say what we want to say and we are allowed to speak out on injustices and that's just how it goes. and if people don't understand that that's something they have to deal with. pic.twitter.com/vefcHSPlMD
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) October 22, 2019
Protests in Hong Kong have been going on for months, first starting in opposition to an extradition bill that would have allowed extradition of Hong Kongers to mainland China. The legislation has since been scrapped, but the protests have morphed into pro-democracy demonstrations opposing encroachment by China.
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