Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James said Monday that Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey was “misinformed” when he posted a tweet that kicked off a costly dispute between the NBA and its Chinese fans and sponsors.
Morey drew widespread criticism in China earlier this month after he tweeted support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. Nearly all of the NBA’s Chinese sponsors suspended ties with the league after commissioner Adam Silver issued a statement supporting Morey’s right to freedom of expression, while apologizing to Chinese who were offended by the content of Morey’s message.
“I’m not here to judge how the league handled the situation. I just think that, when you’re misinformed or you’re not educated about something – and I’m just talking about the tweet itself – you never know the ramifications that can happen,” James told reporters on Monday night back in Los Angeles. “We all see what that did, not only did for our league but for all of us in America, for people in China as well. Sometimes you have to think through that things that you say that may cause harm not only for yourself but for the majority of people. I think that’s just a prime example of that.”
While Morey’s tweet initial drew a public rebuke from Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, he has not faced any team or league discipline over his post. Morey later attempted to clarify his actions on Twitter, noting that he “did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockers fans and friends of mine in China.”
The Lakers and Brooklyn Nets played a pair of exhibition games in China just days after the local backlash against Morey’s remarks began. The Chinese government mandated that NBA officials cancel media availability for players, as well as Silver’s scheduled press conference, ahead of the game in Shanghai last Thursday.
Silver held a tense meeting with Lakers and Nets players during the league’s trip to Shanghai, with some expressing frustration that they were placed at the center of the situation, according to multiple reports.
James said he has opted not to address the NBA’s ongoing crisis in China because he was not adequately informed on the political climate there.
“You guys know when I speak about something, I speak about something I’m very knowledgeable about, something that hits home for me, somethings I’m very passionate about,” James said. “I felt that with this particular situation, it was something not only was I not informed enough about, I just felt like it was something that not only myself and my teammates and our organization had enough information to even talk about it at that point in time.”