LeBron has faced an immense amount of backlash and criticism from just about the entire world at this point after his controversial comments regarding Houston Rockets, General Manager, Daryl Morey. As he works to make things right with the media and cover up his tracks, the attention on this situation seems to be growing thicker.
The whole situation occurred after the NBA took a trip to China to play in some preseason games to get the season underway. Lately, tensions have been high over in China in-regards to disputes between them and Hong Kong. The Communist party has been at the forefront of China for decades now while Hong Kong favors a country ran through Democracy. The difference in views has created a swarm of violence and plenty of controversy.
On October 4th, Daryl Morey took to twitter to voice his opinions on the China and Hong Kong disputes. Morey’s tweet that is no longer posted up on twitter, read “Fight for freedom, Stand with Hong Kong.” This tweet was quickly brought to trending Twitter worlds attention and created an uproar of anger from China’s citizens.
Later that same Friday night, after Morey’s twitter damage was done, Houston Rockets owner, Tilman Fertitta decided to take the situation in his own hands by sending out his own tweet. Fertitta did what he could to try and defuse the situation as much as he possible stating that Morey “does NOT speak for the Houston Rockets.”
The NBA has always had a pretty strong relationship with China, including key partnerships, and investments engrained over the years. These ties with China took a hit after Morey’s tweet, resulting in broadcasting platforms as well as popular brands shying away from the NBA.
Two days after receiving a a plethora of hate tweets and death threats, Morey decided to apologize for his tweet reassuring that his intentions were not meant to upset or offend anyone. Along with some clarification that his tweets are in no way, shape, or form a representation of the Houston Rockets.
Each of the NBA and CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) players took turns weighing in their own opinions and stances. Most players and front office members did not exactly side with Morey. The CBA’s new commissioner, Yao Ming, had a lot on his mind regarding the issue.
“We are deeply shocked by the erroneous comments on Hong Kong made by Mr. Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets. We have lodged representations and expressed strong dissatisfaction with the Houston Rockets, and urged the latter to correct the error and take immediate concrete measures to eliminate the adverse impact. At the moment, ending violence and chaos and restoring order has become the widest common consensus and the strongest appeal of all social sectors in Hong Kong. Anybody with a conscience would support the efforts made by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to safeguard Hong Kong’s social stability.”Yao Ming’s response to Morey’s tweet
The NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, also had a lot to say to try and clear the air for both the CBA and NBA. Silver released a statement October 7th addressing the situation and voicing his own opinions. The statement was created to defend those affiliated with the NBA while still expressing the NBA’s love and support for China.
After Silver released his statement, the situation seemed to be cooling down until LeBron decided to weigh in on October 14th. James expressed his distaste with Morey’s tweet while meeting with the media. Referring to Daryl Morey as being “uneducated” on the situation at hand and speaking without thought. Everyone expected LeBron to eventually share his thoughts on the situation but no body envisioned him taking the path he did.
He then discussed his dislike for players being pressured into speaking on the situation before the league has a chance to respond.
LeBron later received more heat on twitter after the videos of his media conference were released to the public. People took offense after LeBron’s comments basically went against freedom of speech and sounded in support of China. Like the tweet says below, LeBron is viewed as one of, if not THE biggest public figure when it comes the sporting world. Speaking out on a serious topic such as this one requires a complete grip on the problem as a whole. Thats where James fell short, as he spoke out the same way Morey did, by not having a clear understanding of the consequences and backlash these responses would receive.
The reason LeBron may have taken the approach that he did is because a hearty majority of branding and support comes from China. He may have viewed it as an opportunity to further his brand in China, a place where LeBron and the Nike products are viewed as gold. At the end of the day, LeBron may have decided that taking the hits and criticism is better than falling out with China, a place where a lot of his money comes from.
As you can clearly see below, the Hong Kong citizens did not exactly agree with the statements they were given. LeBron’s legacy and reputation has begun to take a downhill spiral overseas and in the U.S. as LeBron’s fans and haters question the stance he has taken and the approach he plans to take going forward.