LeBron James declined to come out in support of the protesters in Hong Kong in his first public comments about a post on Twitter that an NBA general manager made earlier this month that set off an international crisis.
Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets, wrote on Twitter, “Stand with Hong Kong.” The NBA’s Chinese partners began suspending relations with the league and a number of people in the league have refused to come out in support of Morey, including Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Rockets star James Harden.
James, a Los Angeles Lakers player, was in China to play an exhibition game when Morey published the now-deleted post.
“I don’t want to get in a word or sentence feud with Daryl Morey. But I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke,” James said before the Lakers’ preseason game against the Warriors on Oct. 14 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“So many people could have been harmed, not only financial, but physically, emotionally, spiritually. Just be careful what we tweet, 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 said he meant the general manager wasn’t well-informed about how China, which is run by the Chinese Communist Party, would react to the tweet.
“I believe he was misinformed or not really educated on the situation,” James said of Morey.
“If he was, so be it. I have no idea, but that’s my belief. When you say things or do things, you’re doing it, and know the things that can be affected by it and the families and individuals that can be affected by it. Sometimes it can be changed as well. Sometimes social media is not a proper way to go about things as well. That’s just my belief.
“When you’re misinformed or not educated about something—I’m just talking about the tweet itself—you never know what the ramifications that can happen. We all saw what that did.”
James didn’t say what his own stance on the situation in Hong Kong is. He’s been outspoken about President Donald Trump and a variety of social issues in the United States but became the latest player to not speak out against China, saying he only speaks about things he’s knowledgeable about or passionate about.
Morey followed up his initial tweet with two other missives, writing on Oct. 6: “I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China. I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives.”
1/ I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China. I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives.
— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) October 7, 2019
“I have always appreciated the significant support our Chinese fans and sponsors have provided and I would hope that those who are upset will know that offending or misunderstanding them was not my intention. My tweets are my own and in no way represent the Rockets or the NBA,” he added.
Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta quickly distanced himself and the team from Morey’s pro-Hong Kong tweet, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver apologized for the tweet. After a backlash from fans, Silver later said the NBA supports free speech.
James took to Twitter later on Oct. 14, adding: “Let me clear up the confusion. I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of the tweet. I’m not discussing the substance. Others can talk About that.”
Let me clear up the confusion. I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of the tweet. I’m not discussing the substance. Others can talk About that.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 15, 2019
“My team and this 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,” he added.