LeBron James finally spoke on Monday about the outsized controversy surrounding Daryl Morey’s deleted tweet supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. LeBron’s position was weak and transparently cynical, and he took a justified beating for sharing it, and ultimately spent part of his Monday night trying to clean things up. After making another half-hearted effort on that front Tuesday afternoon, LeBron says he is now resolved to discuss the matter no further.
There’s a lot of argle-bargle in LeBron’s clean-up statements from Tuesday, and more than a little smarm about his I Promise School in Akron, but the gist is this: He resents being put in a position where he has to answer questions about a thorny political situation halfway around the world, and would very much prefer to move off the topic and back to standard basketball stuff.
The point LeBron seems to want to make, more than any other, is that Morey wasn’t sufficiently invested in the conflict between Hong Kong protesters and the authoritarian Chinese government to call down this level of chaos on the entire league and everyone in it. It’s a line of criticism Morey invited with his own weak-ass apology, when he said he’d merely voiced “one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event,” and had subsequently benefited from the opportunity “to hear and consider other perspectives.” The implication is that Morey both underestimated the backlash his tweet would receive from a wildly defensive China, and lacked a complete understanding of the various perspectives involved. Morey’s backpedaling seems to have formed the basis for players’ concerns that there’d be stiff penalties from the league for such careless commentary from one of their own. LeBron hit Adam Silver with exactly this line of questioning during an emergency meeting in China, according to a report from ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:
His question was related to Morey — and the commissioner’s handling of the Rockets’ GM. James, to paraphrase, told Silver he knew that if a player caused the same type of uproar from something he said or tweeted, the player wouldn’t be able to skate on it. There would be some type of