- LeBron James is facing criticism from all sides after his response to Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.
- At the protests, the Associated Press photographer Mark Schiefelbein captured images of protesters in Hong Kong burning James’ jersey.
- Asked to follow up on his comments on Tuesday, James reiterated his belief that it was a complex issue and indicated that he didn’t plan on commenting further on the matter.
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LeBron James came under harsh criticism both in the US and abroad after his comments on the controversy between the NBA, China, and the protests in Hong Kong.
The firestorm started when the Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of the ongoing Hong Kong protests, a move that was not appreciated by the NBA’s business partners in China.
Morey apologized and deleted the tweet, but the initial damage was done. The state broadcaster China Central Television and the livestreaming platform Tencent Sports both said they would no longer broadcast Rockets games.
The NBA then went into damage control, with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver putting out two statements in an attempt to clarify the league’s position and their relationship with China.
On Monday, James spoke with reporters for the first time about the ongoing controversy, staying on a similar line that the league took and saying that Morey hadn’t considered the ramifications of his words.
“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.”
James caught criticism from fans, many of whom were disappointed that James had decided against standing with Morey and in support of the protests.
"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 #BriocheBoys (@RKalland) October 15, 2019
More Than An Athlete (unless it threatens business partnerships) https://t.co/bAcKlgx7VI
— Mike Prada (@MikePradaSBN) October 15, 2019
On Tuesday, the Associated Press photographer Mark Schiefelbein captured images of protesters in Hong Kong burning James’ jersey. According to Schiefelbein, protesters threw basketballs at an image of James and chanted their anger at the Lakers superstar.
James had attempted to walk back his initial comments on Monday night on Twitter.
“Let me clear up the confusion,” James tweeted. “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,” James said. “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.”
On Tuesday, James was asked about the criticism he had received. He reiterated his belief that it was a complex issue and indicated that he didn’t plan on commenting further on the matter.
“I talked about it yesterday,” James said. “I tweeted out a couple responses to people not understanding my knowledge, and where it came from, and me learning from the situation. I’m talking about it now. And I probably won’t talk about it again because I’d be cheating my teammates.”
I asked LeBron James on his response to the criticism on not speaking out on a freedom of speech/human rights issue. His response pic.twitter.com/3ub5hYsa22
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) October 15, 2019
James and the Lakers will begin their season in one week with a game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
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