Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 26 No. 174
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

LeBron Draws Criticism For First Public Comments On Morey Tweet

James was one of the last major players to offer his thoughts on the situation between the NBA and China
Photo: NBAE/getty images
James was one of the last major players to offer his thoughts on the situation between the NBA and China
Photo: NBAE/getty images
James was one of the last major players to offer his thoughts on the situation between the NBA and China
Photo: NBAE/getty images

LeBron James' initial comments last night on Daryl Morey's pro-Hong Kong tweet "set off swift reaction on social media, with many listeners perceiving his comments as criticism of the democracy movement," according to Greg Beacham of the AP. James "addressed the issue again in two tweets" before to the Warriors-Lakers preseason game. He wrote, "Let me clear up the confusion. I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of the tweet. I'm not discussing the substance. Others can talk About that. ... My team and this league just went through a difficult week. I think people need to understand what a tweet or statement can do to others. And I believe nobody stopped and considered what would happen. Could have waited a week to send it" (AP, 10/14). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Ben Cohen writes James was "among the last major players to offer his thoughts on the geopolitical firestorm that positioned the NBA and China against each other, and his comments were highly anticipated given his history of being outspoken on political issues that matter to him." But James had "never been faced with a situation where the geopolitical or financial stakes were so high as this one." James was "one of the few people who could have breathed new life into the NBA's sudden problem in China with the power of his words, and his comments on Monday calling into question Morey's tweet almost certainly did that" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/15). ESPN's Scott Van Pelt said James' comments "certainly won't help the matter," and he actually "poured gas" onto the entire situation ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 10/15).

LEBRON'S INITIAL COMMENTS: James yesterday made his first comments about the NBA China controversy, saying he believes Morey "wasn't educated on the situation at hand and he spoke." James: "So many people could have been harmed not only financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually. ... I believe he was either misinformed or not really educated on the situation, and if he was, then so be it." He added, "I'm just talking about the tweet itself You never know the ramifications that can happen. And we all seen what that did. Not only did for our league, but for all of us in America, for people in China as well. And sometimes you have to think through things that you say that may cause harm not only for yourself but for the majority of the people" (L.A. TIMES, 10/15). In L.A., Kyle Goon writes James "typically is outspoken on a variety of social issues." But James said that he "didn't want himself or any players to be put in a position where they would have to comment on a political situation they didn't fully understand." He said, "When I speak about something, I speak about something I am very knowledgeable about, something that hits home for me, something that I am very passionate about. I felt like with this particular situation, it was something that not only was I not informed enough about, I just felt like it was something that not only myself and my teammates or our organization had enough information to even talk about it at that point in time, and we still feel the same way" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 10/15).

NOT GOING OVER WELL: YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Wetzel writes under the header, "LeBron Air-Balls His Opportunity To Address China, Daryl Morey Controversy." Wetzel writes James "essentially told Morey to shut up and dribble ... or at least shut up and study advanced analytics." James "just wants Morey quiet," just like Fox News' Laura Ingraham "wants LeBron quiet." This "entire answer was a disaster." James and his team of "image consultants and public-relations professionals had 10 days to come up with a suitable response for this certain to be broached topic" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/15). ABC's T.J. Holmes notes James was "once famously told to 'just shut up and dribble,'" but he is "seemingly saying to somebody else, 'Shut up and don't mess with my money.' ... The backlash against him is because he seems to be putting business first" ("GMA," ABC, 10/15). ESPN Radio's Mike Golic Jr. said, "There was a 10-day gap in between what Daryl Morey said and … when we heard from LeBron James, and in that time for this initial statement to be the best you come up with is shockingly bad." ESPN's Trey Wingo: "This is about protecting the NBA's business and the money that LeBron and players make off that" ("Golic & Wingo," ESPN Radio, 10/15). SI's Rohan Nadkarni writes James "had enough time to be better with his statement," and he "failed to live up to the standard of his own eloquence here" (SI.com, 10/15).

BUSINESS TRUMPS EVERYTHING? USA TODAY's Dan Wolken writes under the header, "LeBron James Undermines Values He's Espoused In Most Disgraceful Moment Of Career." Wolken writes James basically admitted that the "only thing that really matters is [his] ability to sell shoes and market 'Space Jam 2' in a country of 1.4 billion." It is "difficult to reconcile" James' history of commenting on social and political issues with the "idea that China of all countries should be above reproach for anyone who works in the NBA." Wolken, to James: "That's exactly what you were suggesting on Monday when you criticized Morey for not giving any consideration" (USA TODAY, 10/15). In L.A., Helene Elliott writes James made it clear that business was "at the top of the agenda for the China trip for the league and for players whose shoes, jerseys and images are coveted there" (L.A. TIMES, 10/15). CNBC's Becky Quick said, "It sounds like he's not mad about ... thinking you should stand with the Hong Kong protesters, just the timing. Don't do it the week before I show up?" CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin: "If LeBron has the leverage, he should stand up and say what he said about every other political and polarizing thing he doesn't like." Washington Univ. Dir of Sports Business Program Patrick Rishe: "The bottom line is the bottom line" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 10/15). ESPN's Max Kellerman: "It's called 'selling out'" ("First Take," ESPN, 10/15).

WANTING TO TALK, ON RIGHT TERMS: L.A. Sparks F and ESPN analyst Chiney Ogwumike talked about players speaking on global issues and said, "It's not that we don't want to speak. It's just that there is a time and a place and a person to speak, and you have to be educated (on the issues)." Ogwumike: "We are not necessarily as athletes qualified to answer those questions. ... Athletes want to speak, but they want to speak from a position of power and a position of knowledge, and it's hard to do that. So I think that's why the league and the country sort of protected them from that situation." However, ESPN's Rachel Nichols said, "At some point, you have to let the questions be asked and then you just have to have smart answers for them if you are going to be overseas" ("The Jump," ESPN2, 10/14).