Politics

LeBron James Laments That NBA Could Be Harmed ‘Financially’ By Rockets GM’s Pro-Hong Kong Stance

Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Amber Athey White House Correspondent
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NBA star LeBron James claimed Monday that Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey was not “educated” when he spoke in support of Hong Kong protesters and lamented the fact that Morey’s comments could have harmed people “financially.”

“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 only thinking about yourself,” James said during a press conference Monday. “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.”

“So many people could have been harmed not only financially, but physically, emotionally, spiritually,” the Los Angeles Lakers player added.

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James later complained that the Lakers and the NBA “went through a difficult week” because of Morey’s comments in support of Hong Kong, insisting that Morey “could have waited a week to send it.” He also claimed he was not speaking to the “substance” of Morey’s comments.

Morey set off a firestorm within the NBA last week when he tweeted his support for protesters in Hong Kong, telling his followers, “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” The tweet came while the NBA, which has significant financial ties to China, was playing a series of exhibition matches with the Chinese professional basketball league. (RELATED: Houston Rockets Gear Disappears From Nike’s Chinese Website)

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver apologized for Morey’s tweet, and Morey eventually followed suit.

“I have always appreciated the significant support our Chinese fans and sponsors have provided and I would hope that those who are upset will know that offending or misunderstanding them was not my intention. My tweets are my own and in no way represent the Rockets or the NBA,” Morey said.

Critics of the league slammed them for refusing to stand against communism for fear of harming their own financial interests. Some NBA fans protested by bringing pro-Hong Kong signs to the U.S.-China exhibition games, but were forced to either hand over their signs or leave the arenas.

Millions of people have been protesting in Hong Kong against alleged human rights abuses by the Chinese communist regime and in favor of bringing democracy to the region. In addition to strict censorship laws, China has been engaging in the mass detainment and subjugation of its Uighur Muslim population.