Eleven days after the Daryl Morey tweet, LeBron James spoke on the situation the NBA found itself in. Known for his social activism, speaking up on police brutality and gun control, LeBron owned and redefined the insult Laura Ingraham directed at him. LeBron loves being “more than an athlete.” Here’s LeBron on freedom of speech and China.
This is quite hypocritical from LeBron and a reminder that he is more than an athlete – he is a businessman. Being Nike’s most important athlete, and with Space Jam 2 in post-production, LeBron has too much to lose if he stands up to China. Like the NBA, LeBron decided to side with the dollars. After the reaction to his statement was overwhelmingly negative, LeBron followed up with a tweet.
This is a false distinction – “not talking about substance, just the consequences.” The heart of the issue is precisely that freedom of speech may come at a cost, and you accept that. Regardless of the substance, as long as you aren’t promoting crime, violence, or something similar (which Morey wasn’t doing), you should have the right to speak your mind. It even gets worse for LeBron if we do take the substance into account.
Morey expressed support for protesters in Hong Kong who are trying to retain the same rights and freedoms LeBron has been promoting in the USA. Fighting against police brutality and asking for fair and just treatment from the government – just like the “I can’t breathe” t-shirt he wore. But if he did get into the substance, he’d have to explain how come Chinese lives are not worth risking income over, but African-American lives are. So when LeBron implies Morey wasn’t thinking about others, millions of people in Hong Kong respectfully disagree.
This isn’t the first time LeBron dodged to be more than an athlete when it comes to China. In 2007, Cleveland Cavaliers’ Ira Newble wrote an open letter criticizing China’s role in the Darfur genocide. While most of Newble’s teammates signed the letter, only two did not: Damon Jones and LeBron James. Again, LeBron said he “didn’t have enough information about the issue to take a stand.” He just can’t seem to get time to read up on China.
Realistically, there are a lot more Chinese NBA fans than NRA members tuning in to see Lakers – Clippers, so the economic ramifications are different. But the point of having principles is you uphold them whether they cost you $10 or $1,000,000: selling shoes and movie tickets vs. human rights. Everyone has a price, and we now know LeBron’s.
LeBron’s been chasing MJ all his life and he caught up in one of the categories. He should just modify it to “Chinese buy sneakers too.”