Basketball star LeBron James has spawned severe backlash, being accused of ignoring “Chinese repression” on Tuesday after he called out a Houston Rockets' executive over his “misinformed” tweet in support of Hong Kong protesters.
"So many people could have been harmed not only financially but physically, emotionally and spiritually. So just be careful with what we tweet, and we say, and we do," James told reporters when asked for a comment in Los Angeles after returning from the NBA's yearly China tour.
The flamboyant Lakers forward brought up Rockets manager Daryl Morey, arguing that he “wasn’t educated” on the events in Hong Kong and should have kept silent instead of dropping politicised comments, with his remarks being praised by Chinese social media users, who were far from impressed by Morey commenting on what they consider to be their country’s domestic affairs.
😡😡😡TO THOSE people who called“free hongkong”— zhuyangjian (@zhuyangjian) October 15, 2019
you never know what's happenning in hongkong！
you are never know the truth！
you just hate china！
shame on you！
come to hongkong to see what's really happenning！@KingJames is damn right！
to all the losers！ pic.twitter.com/8rKxjFfRDX
Well done LeBron, just like you said, people need to understand others feelings about that tweet, Morey do have free speech no one deny that, but he hurt many people both emotionally and physically. Those people who are ranting you doesn't even know what really happen in HK.— DZ ZHANG (@DZZHANG4) October 15, 2019
However, US commenters, savaged LeBron James over the indirect exchange:
“Communist China propagandist LeBron James campaigned for Hillary Clinton,” one wrote, with another weighing in with the following:
“Let me clear up the confusion. Lebron James cares more about selling sneakers in China than American values.”
Let me clear up the confusion. Lebron James cares more about selling sneakers in China than American values— Saagar Enjeti (@esaagar) October 15, 2019
His performative wokeness over the years has been utterly exposed https://t.co/Bf7hbmBFmk
Cheeky remarks likewise arrived, with some humorously hinting how the most popular players tend to fall out of favour:
Following his initial remarks, James, who boasts a lifetime promo deal with Nike, which has factories mostly based in China, tried to clarify his stance with followup tweets:
"Let me clear up the confusion. I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of (Morey's) tweet. I'm not discussing the substance. Others can talk About that," he wrote.
Just prior to James's Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets arriving in China last week for a few pre-season games, Moray had posted:
"Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong."
Earlier this month, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Hong Kong infuriated by the introduction of a brand-new law that bans wearing face masks during protests and other public gatherings. The first mass protests swept across China’s special administrative region in early June in response to a highly unpopular bill that would have allowed people to be extradited to the mainland.
Beijing views the situation in Hong Kong as a result of foreign interference in China's domestic policies and approved tough measures undertaken by local authorities to disperse the protesters.