He shoots and–according to many on social media– misses badly.
Lebron James, the Los Angeles Lakers’ star who often comments on domestic, social and political issues, criticized Houston Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey‘s ‘misinformed’ decision to take to Twitter to call on support for protesters in Hong Kong who are facing off against what they see as an encroaching Beijing.
James told reporters in Los Angeles Monday night that Morey’s tweet was misinformed.
Morey’s now-deleted tweet read: “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”
James, one of the most recognizable players in the league who was just in China for pre-season games, indicated that Morey would have done well to show restraint.
“I’m not here to judge how the league handled the situation. I just think that, when you’re misinformed or you’re not educated about something – and I’m just talking about the tweet itself – you never know the ramifications that can happen,” James said. “We all see what that did, not only did for our league but for all of us in America, for people in China as well. Sometimes you have to think through the things that you say that may cause harm not only for yourself but for the majority of people. I think that’s just a prime example of that.”
The protests gripping Hong Kong began in response to a now-withdrawn extradition bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts in mainland China. The movement then ballooned to encompass broader clamors for universal suffrage, an independent inquiry of the policing methods used against protesters and other demands.
James clarified the remarks later on Twitter, saying his team and 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.”
James insisted that he was not commenting on the tweet’s substance.
Dan Wolken, a writer for USA Today, wrote a column calling the episode the most “disgraceful moment” of James’ career.
“If only Morey had done what you did Monday, LeBron, and tacitly admit that the only thing that really matters is your ability to sell shoes and market “Space Jam 2” in a country of 1.4 billion, we could have had an intellectually honest discussion about doing business in China and the cost of free speech in a country where only propaganda is tolerated,” he wrote.
Social media users posted videos of the violent protests in the city and called out the superstar for treading carefully around the issue so he doesn’t offend the lucrative Chinese market.
“No more King James, Chairman James from now on,” one user wrote.