LeBron James on NBA-China: Not Every Issue Should Be Everyone’s Problem

LeBron James
Getty Images

Progressive NBA star LeBron James is suddenly exclaiming that every political issue is not “everybody’s problem,” as fallout over his dismissive comments about China’s human rights abuses continues to roil NBA fans.

“We’re not politicians,” James uncharacteristically said on Tuesday when asked again about his astonishing comments about China.

“I also don’t think every issue should be everybody’s problem as well,” James told the Los Angeles Times. “When things come up, there’s multiple things that we haven’t talked about that have happened in our own country that we don’t bring up. There’s things that happen in my own community in trying to help my kids graduate high school and go off to college. That’s been my main concern the last couple of years with my school.”

LeBron’s sudden reticence about making pronouncements on political issues after years of political pronouncements and activism came after comments on Monday where he criticized Americans for supporting the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and called our First Amendment rights of free speech a “negative” thing.

In his controversial comments, James slammed Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, calling Morey’s support uneducated.

On top of dismissing the pro-democracy movement, James even criticized America’s tradition of free speech as being “negative” because it allowed criticism of the NBA’s big-money deals with the oppressive Chinese government.

Since his comments on Monday, James has tried to squirm out of controversy, but with every statement, James ends up deeper in trouble.

After his comments Monday, James tried to explain further, saying, “Let me clear up the confusion,” James tweeted Monday. “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.”

But this was only seen as James being more worried about Chinese money than in aiding the many minorities who are jailed, tortured, and killed by Chinese authorities on a daily basis.

By Tuesday, pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong were burning LeBron James merchandise and jerseys and wearing sad-faced LeBron James masks.

Protesters slammed James as being “about money” and not about freedom.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.