National Basketball Association superstar Lebron James says he believes a Houston Rockets official didn’t consider the “consequences” of his actions when he tweeted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters, sparking tensions between the league and China.
“I believe he [Houston GM Daryl Morey] wasn’t educated on the situation at hand,” James told reporters Monday. “So many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but emotionally, physically, spiritually … Yes, we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative because of that too.”
The Los Angeles Lakers star took to Twitter to clarify what he meant.
“Let me clear up the confusion. I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of the tweet. I’m not discussing the substance. Others can talk about that,” he said. “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.”
The controversy started when Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted an image that read “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”
Morey has since deleted the tweet but the response from Chinese companies and the public was swift, with many suspending ties with the Rockets, one of the most popular teams in China because of its former star center, Yao Ming.
The NBA issued regret over the tweet but many U.S. politicians urged the league to respect freedom of expression by its employees.