Muhammad Ali’s ex-wife expressed her disappointment with NBA star LeBron James’s decision to not back pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong, in a recent interview with TMZ Sports.
On Monday night, James told reporters that he felt Rockets GM Daryl Morey “wasn’t educated on the situation at hand,” when he tweeted support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement earlier this month. He also cited the “negative” side of free speech.
LeBron comments on Daryl Morey’s China tweet: "I believe he wasn't educated on the situation at hand and he spoke."
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 15, 2019
In an interview with TMZ, Khalilah Ali, who was married to Muhammad Ali from 1967-1976, says that her late husband would have handled the NBA-China situation differently. She also believes that James should support people “who are standing up for their rights.”
Of particular note, is when Khalilah Ali stresses that her late, former husband was a “man of the world.” Implying, or stating, that he would have known how to handle the NBA-China situation.
In reference to the demonstration in Hong Kong which saw protesters burning LeBron James merchandise, Ali buttressed this point by saying: “They would not take Muhammad Ali’s shorts and burn them anywhere, it would never happen.”
James has taken considerable criticism from celebrities, fans, and politicians, on both sides of the political aisle. The star NBA forward who has spent nearly ten years taking stands on a variety of social justice issues and heavily criticizing President Trump, is now being seen by many as a social justice warrior of convenience. More than willing to take a stand for his vision of freedom or human rights when there’s no downside to doing so, but quick to betray those principles when they conflict with his business interests.
Perhaps it’s that dynamic that most disturbed Khalilah Ali, given the fact that Muhammad Ali was willing to sacrifice three of his prime boxing years when he refused to join the Army during the Vietnam War. Years where Ali could have racked-up considerable victories and money.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn