- James said there were ramifications to free speech and that people could have been hurt financially, physically, and emotionally by Morey’s tweet.
- Some in the sports world criticized James’ comments.
- James took to Twitter later to say he meant Morey was uneducated on the potential ramifications of his tweet, not the “substance.”
On Monday, LeBron James said he felt Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey was not “educated” on the protests in Hong Kong when he sent a tweet supporting protesters, setting off a controversy between the NBA and China.
Speaking to reporters, James said he did not want to get into a “feud” with Morey and felt it should be handled behind closed doors. However, he said there are consequences to freedom of speech.
“We all talk about this freedom of speech. Yes, we all do have freedom of speech, but at times, there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you’re not thinking about others, and you’re only thinking about yourself,” James said. “I don’t want to get in a word sentence feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke. And 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, but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that too.”
James took to Twitter shortly after to say he meant Morey was uneducated on the potential impact of his tweet, not the substance of it.
Still, some criticized James for his initial comments.
After Morey’s tweet, several Chinese businesses suspended operations with the Rockets and/or NBA. The timing was awkward for the NBA, as the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets went to China shortly after Morey’s tweet to play a preseason game.
China has been a burgeoning market for the NBA, one the league has spent years developing as it has grown a large and passionate fanbase in recent years. The NBA was initially criticized for its response to Chinese outrage to Morey’s tweet, as many accused the league of caring more about its bottom line than freedom of speech.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver later made clear that the league would not apologize for Morey’s tweet, saying only the outrage was unfortunate, and he hoped the two sides could move forward.
While the preseason game was not shown on Chinese TV, the game was played despite fears of it being canceled.
LeBron James speaks for the first time since the NBA's trip to China, says Rockets GM Daryl Morey was "misinformed" about the ramifications of his tweet, and "not educated about the situation." Here are LeBron's comments in full: pic.twitter.com/Rwjnchm2w3
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) October 15, 2019
Source: Business Insider