LeBron James called Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey uneducated and went off at-length about the “negative” side-effects of free speech, in reaction to Morey’s tweet of support to pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong.
On October 4th, Morey tweeted a message of support of Hong Kong’s demonstrators, saying: “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.”
That message touched off a firestorm of controversy as China canceled minor league exhibition games and canceled numerous business deals with the Rockets, and the NBA. On Monday, Lakers forward LeBron James spoke publicly about the incident for the first time, and didn’t mince words while calling Morey out for a tweet that he says could have caused people to be physically “harmed.”
LeBron says he believes Rockets GM Daryl Morey wasn’t educated when he spoke about Hong Kong and that his tweet could have hurt a lot of people, including financially pic.twitter.com/UMj71DPQH7
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) October 15, 2019
The NBA received tremendous bipartisan criticism for their initial response to Morey’s tweet, when they responded by calling the post “regrettable” for the offense that it caused. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver eventually tried to quell the backlash by championing Morey’s free speech rights.
Now, with the league representatives and players back from their tumultuous trip to China, it seemed like the news cycle of the NBA-China rift had died down. However, with James denouncing free speech in even stronger terms than the NBA did while calling a pro-democracy tweet “uneducated,” it’s difficult to see the crisis going away.
It’s also difficult to see why James would so willingly and unnecessarily reignite the controversy.
Then again, perhaps it makes sense after all. James is still the best and most popular player in the league. Moreover, for nearly ten years he’s championed numerous social justice causes and launched numerous attacks against President Trump, all to the delight of the sports media.
Maybe he’s become so used to being applauded for speaking his mind, that he no longer recognizes when he shouldn’t?
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn