Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has weighed in on the controversy surrounding the NBA and China that started with Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeting his support of Hong Kong protesters.
"I don't want to get into a ... feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn't educated on the situation at hand and he spoke," he said. "So many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but physically, emotionally and spiritually."
Ben Golliver of the Washington Post shared James' full comments:
James then attempted to "clear up the confusion" after social media reacted to his comments:
Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated noted James said he didn't have enough information on the entire topic while the Lakers were in China for preseason events to previously offer a comment.
The Lakers played two preseason games against the Brooklyn Nets when they were in China, but NBA Cares events involving the two teams, at least one of which was intended to benefit the Special Olympics, were canceled.
The controversy with the NBA and China started when Morey posted in a since-deleted tweet: "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong."
The Chinese Basketball Association suspended its relationship with the Rockets following the tweet, which was notable because Houston has long been one of the most popular teams in the country because Hall of Famer Yao Ming played for it during his NBA career.
Morey issued a clarification to what he meant with his deleted tweet following the backlash:
"I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China. I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives.
"I have always appreciated the significant support our Chinese fans and sponsors have provided and I would hope that those who are upset will know that offending or misunderstanding them was not my intention. My tweets are my own and in no way represent the Rockets or the NBA."
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver offered a statement that said the league will not stop players or owners from commenting:
Shams Charania @ShamsCharania
Adam Silver has released statement on league’s relationship status with China, reading in part: “The NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues. We simply could not operate that way.” https://t.co/A43BOAdG57
That James commented on the situation is notable beyond the fact that he is the most recognizable player in the league for his skill on the court.
He is well-known for his efforts outside of the game, be it opening a school for underprivileged children, stressing that he is "more than an athlete," fighting for the rights of NCAA athletes to be paid for the use of their images and likeness, and speaking out against the sitting president, among other endeavors.
His comments came before the Lakers played the Golden State Warriors in Monday's preseason game.