On Tuesday, NBA star LeBron James said that he will no longer talk about the current China-NBA scandal after the critical response he received for criticizing a general manager’s support for Hong Kong protestors.
“I’d be cheating my teammates by continuing to harp on something that won’t benefit us trying to win a championship because that’s what we’re here for,” James said to reporters. “We’re not politicians. It’s a huge political thing. But we are leaders, and we can step up at a times, but you don’t feel like you should upon things you shouldn’t have to.”
“There’s things that happen in my own community, trying to help my kids graduate high school and go off to college,” James continued. “Trying to make sure the inner-city kids that grew up in my hometown can have a brighter future and look at me as inspiration to get out of the hellhole of the inner city. And we don’t talk about those stories enough.”
On Monday, James claimed that Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey “was either misinformed or not really educated on the situation” when he decided to exercise his free speech rights and voice his support for Hong Kong demonstrators.
“Yes, we do have freedom of speech,” James stated. “But at times, there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you’re not thinking about others, when you only think about yourself. I don’t want to get into a word or sentence 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 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, it can be a lot of negative that comes with it.”
When asked to go into further detail, James expanded:
I believe (Morey) was either misinformed or not really educated on the situation, and if he was, then so be it. But I have no idea. That’s just my belief. When you say things or do things, you’re doing it and you know the people that can be affected by it, and the families and the individuals and everyone that can be affected by it. Sometimes things can be challenging as well. Also sometimes, social media is not always the proper way to go about things as well. But that’s just my belief.
Hong Kong protestors weren’t buying any of James’ comments. Demonstrators burned and stomped on James jerseys during a rally Tuesday at the Southorn Playground in Hong Kong.
After feeling tremendous pressure, James tried to address the issue again on Twitter before the Lakers’ preseason game against the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center.
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… 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.
Florida Senator Rick Scott slammed James claiming that the Lakers player “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.”
Missouri Senator Josh Hawley also criticized James, calling his comments “garbage” and “hard to take.”
“Having just been in Hong Kong – on the streets & with the protestors – this kind of garbage is hard to take. LeBron, are YOU educated on “the situation”? Why don’t you go to Hong Kong? Why don’t you meet the people there risking their lives for their most basic liberties,” Hawley tweeted.
“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,” the GOP Senator continued.
Given that James lives in a country like the United States, which respects the freedom of expression, he is able to criticize whatever political figure he wants and not face any political consequences as a result.
However, for billions of Chinese, this is unfathomable.
Beyond free speech, this case indicates a creeping influence of China’s authoritarian political practices in corporate America, which has raised concerns about China’s overall geopolitical intentions.
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