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VIDEO: Lebron James echoes Communist China: Rockets GM was ‘misinformed’ on Hong Kong/freedom tweets

Lebron James. (Erik Drost/Flickr)
October 15, 2019

NBA star Lebron James on Monday added to the basketball league’s ongoing public relations backlash over their business practices with the communist Chinese state.

During a Monday press event, James – who is often outspoken about social justice issues – pushed back on Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of Hong Kong and said neither Morey “wasn’t educated on the situation at hand” enough to weigh in on Hong Kong’s protests or China’s controversial human rights record. James said Morey’s comments could have caused financial, physical and emotional harm for many people.

Though Morey deleted his tweet in support of Hong Kong protesters, and the NBA has apologized to Chinese censors who took offense at Morey’s comments, the league has struggled to return to China’s good graces. In the fallout from Morey’s tweet, Chinese advertisers and broadcasters have pulled support from NBA games including an exhibition game between the Brooklyn Nets and James’ Los Angeles Lakers, Fox News reported.

“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,” James said, providing his initial assessment of the ongoing controversy.

He continued, “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.”

After receiving further backlash for his Monday press statements, James took to Twitter to clarify his comments.

James said he was not talking about the substance of Morey’s tweet– “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong”– but the timing and consideration of the consequences that tweet would have.

James went on to say his team and the NBA endured a “difficult week” and said Morey’s comments “Could have waited a week,” appearing to suggest Morey’s comments might have been appropriate if he had waited until after the Lakers’ exhibition game with the Nets.

For more than four months, protesters in Hong Kong have demonstrated against an extradition bill that would allow authorities to arrest and deliver Hong Kong residents to face trial in mainland Chinese courts. Protesters have faced increasing police brutality, and at least one protester has been shot with live ammunition in recent weeks.