LeBron James added another chapter to the NBA’s ongoing China controversy Monday by taking issue with Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey’s decision to post a message on Twitter in support of Hong Kong, and the four-time MVP drew criticism from U.S. politicians and Hong Kong protesters.
In his first comments since the Los Angeles Lakers returned from playing two exhibition games in China, James told reporters at Staples Center that Morey was “misinformed or not really educated” when he posted a graphic on Oct. 4 that read “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” The tweet was met with immediate anger from Chinese authorities, and the conflict deepened when both Morey and the NBA refused to issue a formal apology.
“I don’t want to get into a … feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand and he spoke,” James said before the Lakers hosted the Golden State Warriors in a preseason game. “So many people could have been harmed, not only financially but physically, emotionally, spiritually. Just be careful what we tweet, what we say and what we do. Yes, we have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negatives that come with that as well. … Sometimes social media is not always the proper way to go about things as well.”
Lakers’ LeBron James on NBA’s China controversy: “I don’t want to get into a … feud with Daryl Morey but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand and he spoke.” pic.twitter.com/KKrMNU0dKR
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) October 15, 2019
James, who has been an advocate of professional athletes expressing their political opinions, said he personally did not feel sufficiently informed about the Hong Kong protests to discuss them in detail last week. He added that the situation in China was “very delicate [and] very sensitive” and that he appreciated NBA Commissioner Adam Silver meeting with the players in China to discuss the unfolding controversy, which included numerous events being canceled and led Chinese broadcasters and sponsors to quickly cut ties with the Rockets.