Pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong on Tuesday were seen burning LeBron James’ jerseys in response to comments the NBA superstar made regarding a tweet sent earlier this month by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey. Morey’s tweet supported the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.
James’ initial reaction to Morey’s tweet was rather bizarre, as it appeared as though “King James” was siding with China. LeBron said Morey was not “educated on the situation” before tweeting his support for the protesters.
“We all talk about this ‘freedom of speech.’ Yes, we all do have freedom of speech,” LeBron said. “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 into a…feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand when he spoke.”
Here is a screengrab of Morey’s original tweet, which he later deleted.
Here was the tweet as far as i know. pic.twitter.com/pC6Y3yV43z
— はいい (@clown1208) October 7, 2019
Morey later expressed regret for his original tweet and tried to backtrack from his original position.
2/ I have always appreciated the significant support our Chinese fans and sponsors have provided and I would hope that those who are upset will know that offending or misunderstanding them was not my intention. My tweets are my own and in no way represent the Rockets or the NBA.
— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) October 7, 2019
The NBA bowed to pressure from the oppressive Chinese government and issued a statement distancing itself from Morey’s tweet.
“While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the support individuals’ educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them,” the statement read. “We have great respect for the history and culture of China and hope that sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together.”
Twitter is banned in China, so the number of Chinese citizens who saw the tweet remains unclear. James later tried to clarify his remarks regarding the NBA/China dispute on Tuesday, reminding the world that athletes aren’t politicians.
From Fox News:
NBA superstar LeBron James on Tuesday attempted to clarify his position after his critical remarks about Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s pro-Hong Kong tweet was widely rebuked on social media.
“We’re not politicians,” James, the Los Angeles Lakers forward and perhaps the league’s most recognizable player, said.
“I also don’t think every issue should be everybody’s problem as well. When things come up, there’s multiple things that we haven’t talked about that have happened in our own country that we don’t bring up. There’s things that happen in my own community in trying to help my kids graduate high school and go off to college. That’s been my main concern the last couple of years with my school,” James said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday.
The ex-wife of boxing legend Mohamad Ali weighed in on the controversy, saying that James should stay the course when it comes to human liberty.
“I love LeBron James. I think he’s the greatest” says Khalilah Ali. “But, when it comes to people and society and companies, we have to put that aside. Respect it, but you have to stay the course when it comes to human respect and human fight, human liberty.”
China’s record on human rights is abysmal, as detailed in a 2019 report on Chinese human rights abuses from Human Rights Watch.
“The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) also strengthened its power over the government bureaucracy in a major overhaul of central government structure in March,” the report reads. “The party oversees a powerful new government body, the National Supervisory Commission, which is empowered to detain incommunicado anyone exercising public authority for up to six months without fair trial procedures in a system called ‘liuzhi.'”
“Human rights defenders continue to endure arbitrary detention, imprisonment, and enforced disappearance,” it continues. “The government maintains tight control over the internet, mass media, and academia. Authorities stepped up their persecution of religious communities, including prohibitions on Islam in Xinjiang, suppression of Christians in Henan province, and increasing scrutiny of Hui Muslims in Ningxia.”
LeBron tweeted that his team and the league had a difficult week.
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
With James set to make almost 90 million dollars this year in NBA salary and endorsements, things will probably end better than they began this week. The same can’t be said for protestors in Hong Kong — or the people suffering in political prisons in China.
- Lebron jerseys are burned and trampled on by protesters in Hong Kong - October 16, 2019