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Report: LeBron James, Lakers players faced canceled appearances, lost $1M endorsement in China

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Much has been made of the NBA’s and players’ reactions to the league’s China conflict, with LeBron James’ comments in recent days the latest to cause an uproar.

A Wednesday report shed light on some of the significant financial consequences NBA players are facing as they remain under fire for their collective silence on the human rights concerns in Hong Kong.

Both the league and its players are making financial decisions as China reacts to Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey showing public support for Hong Kong citizens in their struggle with the Communist Chinese regime. They’re taking heat for appearing to prioritize those financial interests over the human rights issues in Hong Kong and Morey’s ability to speak freely on the issue.

While the larger financial impact of a country cutting off NBA access to its 1.4 billion citizens via state-run media as merchandise is pulled off shelves is clear, not much has been made of the specific consequences players are facing.

Details emerge of financial consequences for players

ESPN’s Dave McMenamin provided details Wednesday from the Los Angeles Lakers’ and Brooklyn Nets’ recent drama-filled trip to China and shed light onto those financial pressures.

And yes, James faced immediate business consequences as soon as he landed in China. James alluded to those events being canceled when he made his initial controversial comments on the trip earlier this week.

“A lot of individual appearances got canceled so it kept us even closer,” James said of the Lakers. “It allowed guys not to be able to go on their own and obviously, yes, a lot of people had some business to take care of while they were over there, too, business on basketball, but with the cancellation of so many different events and so many different appearances it allowed us to be together, all of us, just our whole team.”

James had planned to handle important business in China

McMenamin reports that James had planned to use the trip as a chance to handle business dealings he neglected when he skipped an annual appearance to China to work on ‘Space Jam 2’ over the summer.

Details have emerged on the financial consequences LeBron James and his teammates faced in China. (Zhong Zhi/Getty Images)
Details have emerged on the financial consequences LeBron James and his teammates faced in China. (Zhong Zhi/Getty Images)

Nike, Beats in play for LeBron in China

Two of those were events with heavyweight sponsors Nike and Beats by Dre, according to McMenamin, who characterized the planned events as “some of his most important” of the year.

They did not happen.

McMenamin also noted that Nike sales had been surging in China prior to the flap with the NBA. James’ lifetime contract with Nike is reportedly valued in the ballpark of $1 billion.

1 player reportedly lost out on $1M endorsement

James wasn’t the only Lakers player with financial stakes tied directly to the appearance in China. Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma and Rajon Rondo all faced cancelled events, according to the report. And one unnamed player reportedly lost a $1 million endorsement as a direct result of the league’s conflict with China.

As long as these players who are normally apt to speak on social justice issues remain silent on the plight of Hong Kong alongside reports like McMenamin’s, criticism over their reactions will persist.

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