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LeBron James has done many things right in his career, but Monday he made a rare misstep.
The Los Angeles Lakers superstar spoke on the NBA’s developing row with China, spurred by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s pro-Hong Kong tweets. Seemingly contrary to every stance he’s previously taken in his career, James essentially said Morey should have minded his own business and thought about the ramifications of his tweets before sending them.
“I don’t want to get into a [verbal] feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke,” James said before a preseason game. “And so many people could have been harmed, not only financially, [but] physically, emotionally, spiritually.
“So just be careful what we tweet and say and we do, even though, yes, we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that, too.”
His comments, of course, immediately blew up. Even more so than those of his NBA colleagues, like Steve Kerr, who had previously opted for extended explanations of why they would not comment.
Though James took to Twitter Monday night to clarify his statements, he was asked during media availability Tuesday about his response to the backlash. James doubled down on his previous take, in part, and also suggested he is better suited to comment on more local issues.
I asked LeBron James on his response to the criticism on not speaking out on a freedom of speech/human rights issue. His response pic.twitter.com/3ub5hYsa22
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) October 15, 2019
“It’s a tough situation that we’re all in right now as an association, as us as athletes, owners, GMs, whatever. I think when an issue comes up, if you feel passionate about it, and it’s something you want to talk about, then so be it,” James said. “I also don’t think that every issue should be everybody’s problem, as well.”
He went on to discuss the work he’s passionate about in his own community, like his “I Promise” school.
James continued: “There’s issues all over the world, and I think the best thing we can do is — if you feel passionate about it, talk about it. If you don’t have a lot of knowledge about, or you don’t quite understand it, I don’t think you should talk about it, because it just puts you in a tough position.”
Daryl Morey commented on a subject about which he was passionate, as James suggested people generally should. Which part of the issue Morey did not understand — beyond the potential financial cost to the NBA and its stars — remains to be seen.
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