Los Angeles Lakers player LeBron James drew attention recently when he defended Goodyear. President Donald Trump had called for a boycott of the company due to a reported ban of "MAGA gear" in the workplace, and James responded by saying, "we don't bend, fold or break for nobody." However, his comments prompted criticism and references to China.
"Except the Chinese communist party," FOX and Friends co-host Will Cain wrote in response to James' comments. This tweet referenced a previous incident in which the NBA player called Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey "uneducated" after a tweet supporting pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. James was in China at the time of Morey's tweet for an exhibition game between the Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets.
Following Morey's tweet about pro-democracy protests, the league and Chinese authorities canceled multiple fan events and held no media availability. The players instead remained busy at their hotels or at practices. The exhibition games continued as planned, but the state-run CCTV did not broadcast them.
"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."
The NBA also issued an apology in Chinese about Morey's "inappropriate comments" that "undoubtedly seriously hurt the feelings of Chinese basketball fans." The apology prompted criticism from several figures, including former Obama White House staffer Ben Rhodes and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Both released statements on Twitter blasting the NBA for bowing to China, as did many others.0comments
"The only thing the NBA should be apologizing for is their blatant prioritization of profits over human rights. What an embarrassment," wrote former Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke. Others agreed and said that the league was prioritizing money over human rights.
While politicians and Twitter users called out James on social media, protesters in Hong Kong responded in a different way. They took to the streets and set his jerseys on fire. They also threw basketballs at photos of James while chanting support for Morey.