LeBron James is a phenomenal basketball player. Off the court, he also does a lot of wonderful things to help people, such as opening a school for at-risk youth in Akron, Ohio.
Recently, however, James jumped into the lion’s den when he expressed his opinion about Daryl Morey’s recent tweet supporting Hong Kong. In doing so, some could argue that he put business ahead of his concerns for social justice and what was right.
According to James: “I’m not here to judge how the league handled the situation. I just think that, when you’re misinformed or you’re not educated about something — and I’m just talking about the tweet itself — you never know the ramifications that can happen. We all see what that did, not only did for our league but for all of us in America, for people in China as well. Sometimes you have to think through the things that you say that may cause harm not only for yourself but for the majority of people. I think that’s just a prime example of that.”
“My team and this league just went through a difficult week,” James wrote. “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.”
James is right about one thing: People should not discuss things that they are not familiar with. For example, they should not criticize a person for defending democracy against an oppressive and communistic leadership.
This is especially the case when the person doing the criticizing runs the risk of losing enormous sums of money if he happens to agree with the person’s “pro-democracy” stance.
In this case, James labeled Morey as “uninformed” about the current situation in China. He didn’t offer any evidence about why Morey was allegedly uninformed, nor could he. Was Morey allegedly “uninformed” because his comments threatened to potentially sever ties between the NBA and China, thereby jeopardizing the NBA and/or James with significant monetary losses and a dramatic drop in viewers and fans?
Given LeBron’s decision to inject himself into this controversy and his previous stance as a warrior for “social justice,” why wouldn’t he support Morey in this case?
Why wouldn’t he proudly and openly support free speech and democracy? Could the business side of the NBA and the potential lost profits to the league and to James trump (no pun intended!) what is right? While James did not specifically denounce Morey’s comments, he did not support them despite the apparent social injustice in the region.
What makes LeBron’s comments even more egregious is the fact that he previously criticized and accused President Donald Trump of using sports to divide the nation given Trump’s comments regarding Colin Kaepernick and his decision to kneel during the national anthem.
“[Trump is] dividing us and what I’ve noticed over the last few months, he’s kinda used sport to kinda divide us, and that’s something that I can’t relate to because I know that sport was the first time I ever was around someone white and I got the opportunity to see them and learn about them and they got an opportunity to learn about me and we became very good friends.”
“Sports has never been something that divides people it’s always been something that brings someone together.”
On the one hand, James appears to support Kaepernick’s decision to exercise his right to free speech and to kneel during the national anthem.
On the other hand, he is critical of Morey’s decision to exercise his right to free speech.
Of course, Kaepernick’s decision did not pertain to the NBA and had no bearing whatsoever on LeBron or the NBA. LeBron and the NBA could still sell shoes, jerseys and other merchandise no matter what happened in the NFL. However, Morey’s comments directly impacted the NBA. In doing so, they also impacted one of the league’s biggest stars.
James’s unwillingness to specifically support Dorey’s was a dark moment for James and the NBA. Dorey’s tweet, in essence, supported Hong Kong’s ongoing pro-democracy protests against communist control.
James’s decision to question Dorey’s level of “education” regarding this topic came across as an attempt to “appease” China and to fix China’s relations with the NBA at Dorey’s expense. Ultimately, the decision was divisive and seemed to put business ahead social justice and what was right.
James is right: Words have consequences. In this case, his words were wrong.
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