LeBron James Bows To China

Associated Press
October 15, 2019 - 9:21 am
LeBron James

© Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

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HONG KONG (AP) — When the ball smashed into a photo of LeBron James' face stuck above the hoop and dropped into the basket, the Hong Kong protesters cheered.

His standing took a hit from basketball fans who gathered on courts amid Hong Kong's high-rise buildings Tuesday to vent their anger at the NBA's biggest star.

They chanted support for Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, a bit of a hero in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory for tweeting support of their struggle against China. What the crowd of approximately 200 people chanted about James wasn't printable.

The Los Angeles Lakers superstar trigged their anger with comments suggesting that free speech can have negative consequences. That touched a nerve among protesters in Hong Kong who have been engaged in an effort to defend their freedoms for months.

In his first public comments since the Los Angeles Lakers returned home from a strange weeklong tour of China immediately after Morey's incendiary tweet , James' lengthy answer to a question about whether Morey should be punished for his tweet didn't appear to specifically address the merits of Morey's support of Hong Kong sovereignty.

The Lakers superstar instead characterized the international incident caused by Morey's tweet as a cautionary tale about the power of social media.

"Yes, we do have freedom of speech," James said. "But at times, there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you're not thinking about others, when you only think about yourself. I don't want to get into a word or sentence feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn't educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke. So many people could have been harmed, not only financially but physically, emotionally, spiritually. So just be careful what we tweet and what we say and what we do. Even though yes, we do have freedom of speech, it can be a lot of negative that comes with it."

When asked to clarify his thoughts, James went further.

"I believe (Morey) was either misinformed or not really educated on the situation, and if he was, then so be it," James said. "But I have no idea. That's just my belief. When you say things or do things, you're doing it and you know the people that can be affected by it, and the families and the individuals and everyone that can be affected by it. Sometimes things can be challenging as well. Also sometimes, social media is not always the proper way to go about things as well. But that's just my belief."