LeBron James was fervidly denounced and mocked on Twitter after making his first public comments since Daryl Morey’s tweet heard ‘round the world that supported the ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. (Most notable tweet responses at the bottom of the page)
Morey’s tweet read ‘Fight For Freedom, Stand With Hong Kong’ and ignited a wild geopolitical barn burner that put the National Basketball Association at the mercy of one of the world’s most intolerant foreign superpowers.
The intolerant Chinese government quickly went into code red and began condemning not only Morey’s tweet, but the NBA as well, and quickly started to sever lucrative partnerships with the league at astounding rates.
Many Chinese companies joined in on the onslaught, whether on their own accord or possibly pressured and coerced, and ended relationships with NBA franchises and players.
Some were wondering if it was one of the most expensive tweets ever sent out on the social media platform, considering its catastrophic implications.
The NBA was soon put into an incredibly painful juxtaposition as it was still planning on putting on games in the country’s capital of Shanghai, including the highly anticipated Lakers vs. Nets double-header that was going to feature LeBron.
Players and coaches alike made little comment on not only the situation in Hong Kong, its autonomy being one of the most polarizing subjects in East Asia, but the country of China in general, who has been accused of countless human rights monstrosities for generations, and many horrors currently ongoing.
It was becoming obvious that the biggest names in the league weren’t going to comment on the politics of the region because of monumental monetary consequences of such an act, given how stern the reaction was to Morey’s now-deleted tweet.
However, many fans and casual followers of the sport were wondering what the response was going to be from names like LeBron, Steve Kerr, and Gregg Popovich, who had been three of the most vocal voices of the era when it came to not only politics, but notable instances of domestic oppression, discrimination, and prejudice.
Yet, LeBron, Popovich, and Kerr would completely punt on the topic, which was dissatisfying to many, considering the NBA was starting to brand itself as this congenial political advocacy group that would pride itself on being on the ‘right side of history’ as they say. The league even notoriously yanked its All-Star game from Charlotte because of the state’s controversial bathroom bill, that was deemed bigoted towards transgender individuals.
There seemed to be a glaring sense of irony with the NBA pulling the plug on a game in Charlotte, but yet going out of their way to book events in communist China.
A week passed and LeBron had still been silent on the subject, letting Kerr and Popovich trade blows with President Donald Trump, who called Kerr a ‘scared little boy’ after his sedated initial reaction.
LeBron would then drop an unexpected bomb during an interview Monday, with the NBA seemingly in the healing process and distancing themselves from the drama.
LeBron said Morey was ‘misinformed’ about the ramifications of his tweet, and not ‘educated’ about the situation.
He then said ‘so many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but physically, emotionally, and spiritually.’
The comments at the time were obviously divisive, given LeBron dropped ‘misinformed’ and ‘not educated’ seconds after just admitting he wasn’t informed enough on the subject to comment on it initially (Full segment in link).
Not to mention the ignorance and slight arrogance of the words altogether, which seemed to discount the saga in China while condemning Morey the same way the Chinese government did.
Many translated the comments to LeBron simply worrying about the potential monetary losses he himself could have suffered from Morey’s comments.
LeBron would then go viral with a series of tweets that didn’t do him any favors whatsoever.
Lebron tweeted: “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.”
The backlash then ensued, with people on Twitter angry at the sentiment of Lebron and his teammates going through a ‘difficult week’, while tens of thousands of Chinese are being persecuted by their own government, and unlike LeBron, can’t just ‘wait a week’.
For a player who motiviated himself to never 'Shut up and dribble' it seemed like that was exactly what LeBron chose to do.
Check out the most notable responses from LeBron’s tweet, as it was one of the first time’s in LeBron’s career, a player known for his immaculate public stature, was blasted by even his most fervent supporters.