Just when it looked like the NBA couldn’t disgrace itself any more, “King James” stepped in.
Now playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James is one of the biggest stars in the history of the National Basketball Association, so what came out of his mouth during a question-and-answer session with reporters Monday about the league’s troubles with China and its crackdown on Hong Kong protesters was an international story.
And if the social media revulsion is any guide, it’s a story that’s not likely to end well for the NBA.
On camera on Monday, James criticized Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, whose quickly deleted Oct. 4 Twitter post in support of Hong Kong demonstrators sparked a backlash in China that has had some of the NBA’s biggest names groveling ever since.
When it comes to big-name groveling, James’ comments put him in a class by himself.
The sports star, who apparently considers himself courageous for opposing President Donald Trump and complaining about how black people are treated in the United States, essentially called Morey ignorant — and selfish.
“We all talk about this freedom of speech, 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,” James said.
“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,” James continued. “Not only financially, but physically, emotionally, spiritually. So, just be careful what we tweet, and we say, and what we do. Even though, yes, we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that too.”
LeBron James on if Daryl Morey should be reprimanded for his tweet pic.twitter.com/6hCE8vCyNn
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) October 15, 2019
So, NBA stars do have freedom of speech, they just can’t use it to upset the league’s masters in China.
As bad as that is, James published his own Twitter post later Monday that was even worse.
Having just returned from playing exhibition basketball in China, James complained about what a “difficult week” the millionaires of the NBA had to endure because of those protesters putting their lives and freedom on the line in Hong Kong by defying the communist government.
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
All together, making those comments wasn’t the smartest moves of James’ career.
Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley was one of the many who called James out on social media.
“Having just been in Hong Kong – on the streets & with protesters – this kind of garbage is hard to take,” he wrote. “LeBron, are YOU educated on ‘the situation’?”
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 https://t.co/KvphH9RiAl
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) October 15, 2019
And Hawley had plenty of company.
You think you guys had a difficult week?
Try talking to some of the protestors in Hong Kong facing violence just for seeking freedom. Or the millions of religious minorities who spent this week in camps in China.
You never considered them when you made your statement…
— (((AG))) (@AG_Conservative) October 15, 2019
We are so sorry for your pain. Not as sorry as those imprisoned in Chinese re-education camps, but pretty sorry.
— Nick Searcy, INTERNATIONAL THOUGHT LEADER & STAR (@yesnicksearcy) October 15, 2019
Thank you for speaking out on behalf of all the oppressed millionaires who were slightly inconvenienced by those selfish jerks demonstrating for their basic human freedoms.
— Guy Endore-Kaiser (@GuyEndoreKaiser) October 15, 2019
People in Hong Kong being beaten and shot at for demanding democracy “just went through a difficult week”. You just had to choose between supporting their freedom or not – which shouldn’t be a difficult choice.
— Mark Wallace (@wallaceme) October 15, 2019
That last one sums it up perfectly.
LeBron James and the NBA had a choice to make after Morey’s Twitter post put them on the spot.
They chose the path of appeasement and the lure of the league’s largest overseas market over the interests of protesters trying to preserve a shred of freedom in a totalitarian society. They sided with China.
But players like James are brave enough to stand up to Donald Trump?
Just when it looked like the NBA’s disgrace couldn’t get any worse, it did.
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