NBA opening night brought back the Inside the NBA guys and finally got the chance to hear their take on the entire China situation and the blowback LeBron got for his statement. As is often, they didn’t tip-toe around the issue and as is often, Shaq and Chuck got into a heated argument. Here’s Shaq’s point:
“We as American people do a lot of business in China. They know and understand our values, and we understand their values. One of our best values in America is free speech. We are allowed to say what we want to say and we are allowed to speak about injustices. … Daryl Morey was right, whenever you see something wrong going on anywhere in the world you should have the right to say “That’s not right.””
Shaq added that when doing business you sometimes have to avoid topics you know may create conflict and avoid controversial issues, but he was clear that the right to speak up is a core value we should protect. Chuck didn’t agree and expected Morey to show more understanding of his position as the Rockets GM:
“I had a problem with it because the Rockets are the most popular team in China. … That was the first thing he should’ve thought about. You can’t come to my country, make money and then insult me. We don’t get to impress our values on other countries.”
This sounds OK up to a certain point, but the world agreed basic human rights should be protected everywhere. That is a line we are willing to cross even if that means insulting someone to speak up on injustice. But Chuck does have a point that the Rockets are at the head of NBA’s relationship with China and Morey should’ve thought of that. He then addressed the blowback LeBron received:
“I thought what happened to LeBron was unfair. Daryl Morey had the right to say it but he didn’t look at the big picture. LeBron was caught in the middle for three reasons: 1. LeBron makes a billion dollars with Nike, 2. Nike makes billions of dollars in China, 3. the NBA makes billions of dollars in China. All these other American companies make money in China. Why is it to Adam Silver and LeBron James to ruin their financial situation? … There’s nothing wrong with him protecting his money. LeBron had nothing to do with this tweet!”
I 100% disagree with Chick. First of all, his first part is a red herring. LeBron was labeled a sellout, not because of LeBron vs. Morey, but because of LeBron “more than an athlete” James vs. LeYuan James. It was comparing LeBron’s on brand and persona he has built in the past with his position about China that revealed his hypocrisy.
Secondly, mentioning all the financial interests LeBron and NBA have in China is conceding that LeBron valued money over people getting shot in the streets of Hong Kong fighting to retain their freedom. That is kinda’ a definition of a sellout. You go over values you have preached in the past to make money.
Would Chuck be OK if the NBA, Nike, and LeBron had financial interests with the NRA so they didn’t speak up on kids being shot with automatic weapons in schools? I assume he wouldn’t.