LeBron James Receives Backlash for Criticizing Pro-Hong Kong Tweet

LeBron James is taking heat for criticizing Daryl Morey’s tweet that supported pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

LeBron James has become the target of backlash after his own criticism of Houston Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey’s public support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

“I believe [Morey] was either misinformed or not really educated on the situation. So many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but physically, emotionally, spiritually, so just be careful what we tweet, and 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 said.

The tweet in question was sent by Morey on Oct. 4 and read, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong,” sparking backlash from the Chinese Basketball Association and the Chinese government. The NBA also put out a statement calling Morey’s words “regrettable.” Since then, activists and politicians alike have criticized the NBA for seemingly siding with the Chinese government in its conflict with pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

James’ comments on the situation were his first publicly since the Lakers’ recent trip to China. It sparked backlash from sports reporters and political analysts.

“Honestly kind of thrilling to see LeBron admit that he only takes the public stances that he sees as safe and commercially bankable,” Deadspin sports writer Albert Buneko tweeted.

Morey has since apologized and deleted the tweet, but the league’s Chinese partners still pulled their sponsorships, cancelled local broadcasts of games, and enacted a media boycott of the NBA. China makes up at least 10% of the NBA’s revenue.

China makes up at least 10% of the NBA’s revenue. The NBA has spent decades building its market in China, including building courts, offering broadcasting rights, and holding exhibition games in Chinese cities.

Conflict between the Chinese government and Hong Kong’s demonstrators have escalated since June when the anti-extradition protests first started taking place. Violence between protesters and the police has resulted in injuries on both sides and several suicides based on the anti-extradition measures.