LOS ANGELES – More than a week after Houston general manager Daryl Morey ignited an international firestorm with his tweet in support of an independent Honk Kong, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James spoke on the subject Monday, and he started a controversy of his own.
Speaking to the media in Los Angeles — after the Lakers returned from their brief tour of China — James said Morey “wasn’t educated” on the Hong Kong-Beijing conflict that has drawn months of protests, saying people should be careful what they tweet because “a lot of negative” can come with free speech.
“I don’t want to get into a (verbal) feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke,” James told reporters from Staples Center before the Lakers hosted the Golden State Warriors in a preseason game. “And so many people could have been harmed not only financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually. So just be careful what we tweet and say and we do, even though, yes, we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that, too.”
When asked to expand, James said, “I believe (Morey) was either misinformed or not really educated on the situation, and if he was, then so be it. I have no idea, but that is just my belief.
“Because when you say things or do things, if you are doing it and you know the people that can be affected by it and the families and individuals and everyone that can be affected by it, sometimes things can be changed as well. And also social media is not always the proper way to go about things as well, but that’s just my belief.”
James’ comments were soon met with no shortage of criticism on social media, and later Monday night, James took to Twitter to issue a follow-up statement.
He tweeted, “Let me clear up the confusion. I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of the tweet. I’m not discussing the substance. Others can talk About that.
“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.”
Also on Monday, sources told ESPN that NBA commissioner Adam Silver had a “tense meeting” last week with players from the Lakers and Brooklyn Nets while they were in Shanghai.
According to the report, some well-known players were unhappy about being thrust into the middle of a tense scenario, with them potentially being ask to speak with Chinese reporters before Silver was scheduled to do so.
In the end, the NBA did not have media availability in China.
Thus far, Morey has not been disciplined for his since-deleted tweet that included a logo and the words, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong,” though Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta spoke out against Morey and his tweet and Rockets star James Harden apologized afterward, stating, “We apologize. You know, we love China. We love playing there,” while standing next to teammate Russell Westbrook in Tokyo.
According to ESPN’s report Monday, players asked Silver whether Morey would face any ramifications from the NBA, with several arguing the point that if a player did or said something that cost the league millions, that player would face repercussions.
In the days following Morey’s tweet, Chinese state television decided to not air the Nets-Lakers games, and numerous Chinese companies suspended business with the NBA.
Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous region in China, is in the midst of months-long protests — sometimes violent — with Beijing sensitive to foreign influence on the unrest.
–Field Level Media