Lakers: LeBron James, NBA China, Nike Gets Eye-Opening Critique from Bob Costas

LeBron James

Getty Images LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers

Last month Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey took to Twitter to express his displeasure with China and his support for Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters.

That didn’t go over well.

The NBA was days away from their International trip to China where the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers were scheduled to play a series of exhibition games.

Following Morey’s since deleted Tweets, the Chinese leagues, streaming services, sponsors and partners cut ties with the Rockets and the NBA.

Morey would later clarify his statements

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The NBA drew their line in the sand and the games were eventually played.

Once the Lakers got back to American soil, LeBron James gave his two cents: “I don’t want to get in a word or sentence feud with Daryl Morey,” said James.

“But I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand and he spoke. So many people could have been harmed, not only physically or financially, but emotionally and spiritually. Just be careful what we tweet, what we say and what we do. We do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative things that come with that too.”

That statement upset people. While speaking at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ on Monday, legendary sports broadcaster, Bob Costas gave his two cents about James, the NBA and China.

Bob Costas National Anthem, Bob Costas CNN, National Anthem NFL

GettyBob Costas.

Legendary ESPN broadcaster Bob Ley moderated the event. 

See the transcript below:

Bob Ley: So the clock starts ticking, what is LeBron gonna say? I would suggest that LeBron could’ve had a better support staff around him to make a better statement, but he also did pretty bad when asked, “where are the players in this?” and then the players, this opens up their scrutinies, players are so forthright in existential issues in our society. You know you got this Chinese market waiting to be fully exploited by…and Nike goers at the ready, why are you speaking now? It opens the door for the charge of democracy and you look across the sports media range for a fall or an exposition on all this, but…

Bob Costas: And they leave themselves open to a Fox News crowd or those types, they leave themselves open to a crowd of hypocrisy. You swallow your tongue on China, but you take the NBA All Star game out of North Carolina because there are no trans-gendered bathrooms. Now I’m not saying trans-gendered issues aren’t legitimate issues, but on the scale of human rights violations, these things are not remotely equal. So, if you’re all in for one, you could make a forthright statement on the other, and Lebron, who I give tremendous credit to for the work he’s actually done. He’s put his money where his mouth is, that school he’s built, it’s incredible. I think he’s right about a lot of things, but I think he’d also be right to say, “look, I have a greater feeling, and believe I’m better informed about domestic American issues”, that’s fine, but that’s note exactly what he said. The fact of the matter is… what’s it called “Space Balls 2”…and it’s opening in China, and as splendid as his NBA salary is, you know he makes more money with Nike now then in the long run, Nike’s heavily invested in him. So, it looks very selective moral outrage on his part, and I’ll add this because I’ve had some experience with this. In 1996, at the opening ceremony of the Atlanta Olympics, China comes in. Only recently readmitted into the Olympic move, and I said something to the effect of, “Here’s China, recently reentering the family of nations and the Olympic movement, over a billion people.