Ying Ma, a conservative commentator and immigrant born in Communist China, blasted LeBron James for his take on the budding feud between the National Basketball Association and China during a Thursday appearance on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.”
“LeBron is somebody who once proudly said that he and other NBA players have no interest in getting an invitation from Donald Trump to go to the White House,” Ma began, referencing James’ history of opposition to the president.
“This is a president who is democratically elected by the American people but yet, at the same time, [James has] got no problem bowing to the Chinese communist government, which is repressive in so many different ways,” she continued.
“And so that’s where we see a lot of hypocrisy, and he’s rightly been criticized for his position.”
Ma was referring to James’ comments about a now-deleted tweet sent by Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets.
The tweet in question explicitly supported Hong Kong protesters, who have been demonstrating against a Chinese extradition bill and President Xi Jinping’s authoritarian regime in general.
James characterized Morey’s pro-democracy tweet as misinformed, saying the NBA executive “wasn’t educated” on the subject.
Critics, including Ma, contend that the negative ramifications James mentioned were likely financial, given the massive earning potential for the NBA through access to the Chinese market.
Ma also juxtaposed James’ comment with his reputation as a brave and outspoken athlete, as it appeared that the star was unwilling to criticize tyranny when money is on the line.
“I think the problem here is that it is perfectly valid in many ways for many players to say ‘We don’t really understand all the complicated issues involved, and we’re just here to play basketball, we want to bring the love of the game to China and while we’re at it we want to make a lot of money doing it,'” Ma said. “There’s nothing necessarily wrong with doing that.”
“However, it is quite different when you are … facing this bully that is China … and all you’re doing is to say ‘Yes, yes, yes’ and ‘Not only am I going to do exactly what you say, I’m going to criticize all my colleagues and teammates for crossing you, too.'”
“That’s where the hypocrisy and cowardice comes in.”
James has indeed looked like a hypocrite recently, as he does have a history of making overt political statements.
Back in 2014, he and then-teammate Kyrie Irving wore warm-up shirts emblazoned with ‘I Can’t Breathe,’ a progressive rallying cry referring to the controversial death of Eric Garner, according to USA Today.
He also made headlines with a highly political speech during the 2016 ESPY Awards, where he charged athletes with the responsibility to “use this moment as a call to action for all professional athletes to educate ourselves,” and to “speak up. Use our influence. And renounce all violence,” according to Time.
Of course, that was back when speaking up didn’t threaten to put a dent in his paycheck.
Ma is correct in saying that there is nothing wrong with athletes wanting to make money and shut up about politics. There is a problem, however, when those athletes are not forthcoming about their intentions.
LeBron has presented himself as a brave social justice warrior, willing to make sacrifices to speak out against injustice.
In reality, he is just a businessman, conducting himself with the intent to maximize profit, which isn’t brave at all.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.