You know, I don’t expect LeBron James to actually stand up against China; he’s got too much vested interest with the country, what with his immense relationship with Nike, and his inroads into Hollywood production. So I wasn’t surprised yesterday to hear LeBron take a neutral position - like many players have - on the matter that started with a tweet by Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey in support of the Hong Kong protest movement.
However, I was very surprised and somewhat shocked that LeBron went further than staking a neutral stance: he threw Daryl Morey under the bus! James said Morey was “misinformed”, that freedom of speech has “ramifications”, and Morey was being selfish for not considering the consequences his actions carry downstream. This is wild stuff coming from a player who stood with Colin Kaepernick in his protests during the national anthem at NFL games.
I guess in relation to China, no one or entity on earth has enough “fuck you” money. LeBron, one of the richest NBA player in history, certainly doesn’t seem to.
Of course, the populace on twitter descended upon LeBron’s blatant hypocrisy, with Boston Celtics player Enes Canter - himself suffering the consequences of speaking out against the Turkish authoritarian regime - putting it best by tacitly pointing out James’ quoting of MLK, yet not living up to those standards. It appears to me an entirely self-inflicted wound: a quick “no comment” from LeBron would have sufficed. For sure there will still be naysayers, but the subsequent furor would be much less and likely subside once basketball season starts. In actually criticizing the substance of Morey’s tweet, James seems to have crossed a line, and the public is not having it.
I believe athletes - or anybody - don’t owe anyone a responsibility to take a position or have an opinion on absolutely everything. If an NBA player doesn’t want to speak on the China situation, that’s completely okay. It’s also okay if a player wants to support China; he just have to deal with the ramifications here in America.
This whole episode is far from over.