Following a Los Angeles Lakers trip to China, LeBron James said that Houston Rockets' general manager Daryl Morey "wasn't educated on the situation" surrounding the pro-democracy protests. In response, those in Hong Kong threw basketballs at photos of James and chanted support for Morey during a rally Tuesday at the Southorn Playground. Additionally, the protesters stomped on and burned James jerseys.
According to protesters, this statement by James served as evidence that he is motivated by money. Additionally, they believed there was a double standard based on the Lakers player using his celebrity status in the past to promote specific causes.
Hong Kong protestors burn LeBron James Jerseys.
Never side with the communists. Never! pic.twitter.com/cayGvE1dDT— Hotep Jesus (@HotepJesus) October 15, 2019
“Yes, we do have freedom of speech,” James said following his return from China. “But at times, there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you’re not thinking about others, when you only think about yourself. I don’t want to get into a word or sentence feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke.
"So many people could have been harmed, not only financially but physically, emotionally, spiritually. So just be careful what we tweet and what we say and what we do. Even though yes, we do have freedom of speech, it can be a lot of negative that comes with it.”
When Morey's tweet in support of the pro-democracy protests became public, the Lakers were heading to China for exhibition games against the Brooklyn Nets. Upon landing, the players were met by outrage with the since-deleted tweet, as well as the entire NBA.
In response, the league and Chinese authorities canceled multiple fan events and held no media availability. The players were instead kept busy at the hotel or at practices.
While the exhibition games did continue as scheduled, they were not aired on the state-owned CCTV. Additionally, several companies and state-run offices reportedly cut ties with the NBA due to their response to the situation.
James later posted two tweets to further clarify his point, saying that no one considered the ramifications or consequences of sending out the tweet in support of the protesters. In his opinion, the timing should have been considered.
"My team and this league just went through a difficult week," James wrote. "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."
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