The NBA would rather never hear the word “China” again.
Earlier this month, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey posted a picture to his Twitter account to support the protests in Hong Kong. The NBA was headed to China at the time for a pre-season series and important business meetings, of which James was a member. Morey’s tweet outraged China, and created immediate tension between the nation and its businesses and the NBA.
LeBron James rips Daryl Morey, says Morey was uneducated. Says, “We do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negatives that come with that too.” Really. pic.twitter.com/ZTw6a3FZ5n— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) October 15, 2019
“Yes, 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… I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke, and so many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but physically, emotionally, spiritually… Yes, we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negatives that come with that too.”
It was an astoundingly out-of-touch remark from James, who himself clearly doesn’t understand the chasmic power imbalance between the Chinese and the protestors in Hong Kong. But the league clearly was willing to go to any length to express its support for China, and James was willing to play along.
Anthem Protest?Given the nature of today’s media world, the controversy over China had largely died away by the opening night of the season. James’ Los Angeles Kings were preparing for a season-opening showdown against their crosstown rivals, the Clippers. The players gathered to hear the national anthem. And then this happened:
Whether through carelessness or indifference, James chose to scream “let’s go” during the national anthem. Players are of course welcome to protest the anthem, particularly in the NBA; however, this didn’t seem so much like a protest as it did like self-centeredness. James wasn’t actively protesting the anthem, he was putting himself above the anthem. For someone who recently bent over backwards to support China, it’s not a good look. The continued controversy caused some, like former NFL Punter and podcaster Pat McAfee, to admit that their fondness for James was dwindling.
Here’s Lebron James screaming during the national anthem… pic.twitter.com/qHzewDk2QR— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) October 23, 2019