LeBron James delved into the row between the NBA and China on Monday, stating that he feels Daryl Morey crossed boundary when he tried to exercise his right to freedom of speech.
He condemned the Houston Rockets GM’s action, saying he was “misinformed” and needed to be educated after Morey tweeted his support for the Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters.
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“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,” James said before the Lakers exhibition contest on Monday against the Golden State Warriors.
“So many people could have been harmed not only financially but physically, emotionally and spiritually, so just be careful with what we tweet, and we say, and we do. Yes, we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that too.”
James’s Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets got into the controversy when the teams arrived China days back to play two exhibition matches fixed for October 10 and October 12 in the middle of high controversy after Morey tweeted, “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”
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Apparently Morey tweeted in support of the protesters fighting a decision by China that would allow extraditions from Hong Kong to mainland China. For a very long time human rights has been an issue in China even before the former British colony returned to mainland control in 1997.
Hong Kong has been rocked since June by protests that were ignited by a now-scrapped plan to officially allow extraditions but snowballed into a movement calling for more democratic freedoms and police accountability.
The Los Angeles Lakers star said Morey was possibly thinking of himself when he sent the tweet. “There are ramifications for the negative that can happen when not thinking about others, when you are only thinking about yourself,” said LeBron James.
It’s not clear if emotions propelled James reaction or not since he has a lifetime endorsement deal with Nike worth tens of millions. And Nike does major business deals in China, and James has traveled countless times with Nike to China.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver expressed his disappointment at Chinese NBA fans who were upset last week, but said he would not apologize for Morey’s tweet.
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“I don’t come here, either as the commissioner of the NBA or as an American, to tell others how they should run their governments. We’re not apologizing for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression,” Silver said.
Speaking about pulling NBA telecasts out of the Chinese television networks, Silver said, “It’s unfortunate, but if that’s the consequences of us adhering to our values, we still feel it’s critically important we adhere to those values.”