Shenzhen, October 15, 2019 — LeBron James weighed in on the controversy between China and the NBA on Monday, saying that Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey “wasn’t educated” when he sent a tweet in support of protesters in Hong Kong this month.
Morey’s tweet of support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong on Oct. 4 set off a firestorm, prompting Chinese sponsors and partners to cut ties with the league and the National Basketball Association (NBA) to answer difficult questions about free speech.
“We all talk about this freedom of speech. Yes, we all do have freedom of speech. But at times there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you’re not thinking about others,” James told reporters before the Lakers’ preseason game against Golden State in California.
“I don’t want to get into a word or sentence feud with Daryl,” he added. “But I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand and he spoke.”
Not long after the media session, James took to Twitter to clarify his statements.
“Let me clear up the confusion. I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of the tweet,” James tweeted. “I’m not discussing the substance. Others can talk About that.”
James’ tweets and statement have set off their own firestorm, with basketball fans in the U.S. and China sounding off.
On Twitter, many users responded to his statement with anger. “Weak,” said one user. Others simply posted emoji of bags of money.
On the other side of China’s Great Firewall, netizens weighed in to support James, whose statements were trending on Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter, and Douyin, a popular short video platform owned by Bytedance Ltd.
“My James is being attacked by Americans, Americans believe Morey should be supported, and James’ words are basically opposing Morey,” said one user on Weibo. “Sigh, I love you James, hope you can continue to be healthy and play ball!”
The Lakers played two exhibition games in China against the Brooklyn Nets last week, but the NBA canceled media availability for the teams during the trip.
A Rockets staff member also shut down a CNN reporter in Tokyo last week while trying to ask players a question about the controversy.
The league later apologized to the reporter in a statement.
James is one of the few NBA representatives to speak openly about the contention.
“My team and this league just went through a difficult week,” he tweeted on Monday. “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.” – Reuters
U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin sees tariffs being imposed Dec. 15 if no China trade deal
Washington DC, October 15, 2019 – Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday that an additional round of tariffs on Chinese imports will likely be imposed if a trade deal with China has not been reached by then, but added that he expected the agreement to go through.
“I have every expectation – if there’s not a deal, those tariffs would go in place – but I expect we’ll have a deal,” he said in an interview with CNBC, when asked about a round of tariffs scheduled for Dec. 15.
President Donald Trump said on Friday that China and the United States had reached the first phase of a trade deal that covered agriculture, currency and some aspects of intellectual property protections, and would ease the reciprocal trade restrictions that the world’s two largest economies have been imposing for 15 months.
But officials on both sides have said more work is needed to finalize the accord, and Trump acknowledged the agreement could still collapse. U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer said on Friday that Trump had not made a decision about the December tariffs.
Mnuchin said more trade negotiations at various levels would take place over the coming weeks, including a phone call between himself, Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, and talks between Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Asked about a dispute between China and the U.S. National Basketball Association stemming from a tweet by Houston Rockets manager Daryl Morey expressing support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, Mnuchin said he hoped the two sides could come to a solution. – Reuters