Hours after LeBron James described Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey as “not educated” and “misinformed,” the Los Angeles Lakers forward’s jersey was burning in the streets of Hong Kong.
James made his first public comments Monday on the international controversy that has engulfed the NBA and garnered the attention of government officials from China to the United States.
He chastised Morey, claiming that “so many people could have been harmed, not only financially but physically, emotionally, spiritually” for his tweet supporting pro-democracy Hong Kong protesters in their conflict with an oppressive communist regime in China.
Protesters in Hong Kong on Tuesday shot basketballs off an image of James’ face attached to a backboard and lit a replica of his jersey on fire. They also held signs of support, thanking Morey for speaking out.
“Hong Kong people are really suffering right now,” web designer and basketball fan James Lo told the Associated Press. “Now you come off a speech like that, we are very angry. People start burning his jersey ... just because of his speech.”
James’ comments echoed a refrain common in NBA circles that appears to prioritize the league’s significant financial interests in China over the human rights issues at stake in Hong Kong and Morey’s ability to speak freely on the subject.
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