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Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James criticized Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey for the tweet that set off a crisis between the NBA and China, saying that Morey’s support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong was “misinformed or not really educated on the situation.”
The comments are the first from James since Morey’s since-deleted tweet touched off the controversy, which intensified as the Lakers landed in China for two exhibition games last week. After the crisis erupted and developed into an international furor, the players were not made available to the media while they were still in China.
The rhetoric from James, the world’s most powerful basketball player, is certain to inflame the controversy that has engulfed the league since Morey’s tweet on Oct. 4, an image with the words “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” The league in recent years has stressed its support for freedom of speech and encouraged its players to be politically outspoken when they feel it’s necessary. But in his comments, James suggested there are limits.
“We all do have freedom of speech, but at times, there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you’re not thinking about others and you’re only thinking about yourself,” James said on Monday after returning to Los Angeles. “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.”
He added: “So many people could have been harmed, not only financially but physically, emotionally, spiritually. So just be careful what we tweet and we say and what we do even though, yes, we do have freedom of speech. But there can be a lot of negative that comes with that, too.”
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
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