Over the years, LeBron James has become one of the most outspoken athletes on social and political issues around. Since the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer, the Los Angeles Lakers star has made it very clear that he won’t stick to sports. However, not everybody thinks he’s consistent with his messaging.
In fact, prominent Hong Kong activist Joshua Wrong had some very strong words for James.
Wong is referencing the controversy back in 2019 when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey posted a tweet that said “fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.” What followed was massive blowback from China, which is one of the NBA’s biggest markets.
What Exactly Did James Say?
After Morey tweeted the controversial message, many looked to James to see what he had to say. He decided to criticize the general manager.
“I don’t want to get into a word- or sentence-feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand,” James told reporters in October. “And so many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but physically, emotionally, spiritually.”
One thing that got Morey in hot water was that he decided to tweet that message while the NBA was playing preseason games in China. James later commented on that aspect:
My team and this league just went through a difficult week. 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.
Notably, James never mentioned China or the protests themselves. He was criticized for that due to his usual outspoken nature but he did eventually defend himself.
“I think when we talk about the political side, it was a very delicate situation, a very sensitive situation,” James told reporters last year. “And for me personally, you guys know that when I speak about something, I speak about something I’m very knowledgeable about, something I’m very passionate about.
“I feel like with this particular situation, it was something not only I was not informed enough about … I just felt like it was something that not only myself or my teammates or my organization had enough information to even talk about it at that point in time, and we still feel the same way.”
Despite his efforts to explain himself, activists like Wong still perceive James to be a hypocrite.
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James Working Against Voter Suppression
While there are those who will criticize James’ unwillingness to comment on foreign political issues, he’s hard at work in the states. James along with other athletes are working together for voting rights ahead of the 2020 election, according to the New York Times.
“Because of everything that’s going on, people are finally starting to listen to us—we feel like we’re finally getting a foot in the door,” James said. “How long is up to us. We don’t know. But we feel like we’re getting some ears and some attention, and this is the time for us to finally make a difference.”