In the spirit of full disclosure, let me say that I’m from Cleveland and I’m always passionate when it comes to C-Town. So you can imagine my feelings are complicated when it comes to all things LeBron James.
I’ve admired his willingness to be out front on social issues like Black Lives Matter, much of the sadness coming out of the White House these days and educating our young African American children. But as a fan of the sports teams I grew up loving, I appreciate the NBA championship LeBron delivered but have a problem with how he has built the city’s hopes up and left twice now.
All of that aside, LeBron got it all wrong this week when the Los Angeles Laker met with the media and finally was able to take questions about Rockets general manager Daryl Morey and the firestorm he set off in China last week when he tweeted in support of the Hong Kong protestors.
LeBron deemed Morey’s words of support for human rights as “misinformed” and that he was “uneducated” about the issue. I’ve gotten to know Morey some over the years as a reporter in this market and those are just not two words I or anyone who has spent time the Northwestern and M.I.T. graduate.
To me, LeBron is a victim of his own words on this one. Morey did what comes natural to many of us in the country when we see human rights being trampled on as they are over in China. We speak up. And as outspoken as LeBron has been on major social injustice issues like the Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice murders in the name of law enforcement, I was for sure he got it.
But his public admonishment of Morey’s stance seemed to suggest LeBron was perhaps upset like the NBA was that Morey had interfered with the business of making money. There are after all 1.7 billion people in China: Translate, folks who buy the expensive LeBron James sneakers and who will be lining up next summer to see his Space Jams2 movie.
It may have also been a little more personal for LeBron, too, considering the timing and where he and his teammates were when the fallout started. They were behind enemy lines.
LeBron and the Lakers were literally caught up in the mess, along with the Rockets, because they were in China preparing to play some preseason games last week. Perhaps there were some safety concerns because the China government all but turned its back on the NBA and did things to make it known that the league and its players were no longer welcome.
LeBron later said it would have been better and safer had Morey waited a week when the NBA had left China to speak out. Who does that? Thankfully, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and other leaders who lost their lives didn’t wait until the timing was better to social injustice head on in this country.
If the players felt threatened or unsafe as China cutoff all media availability then it was probably time for the NBA to put its players ahead of the dollars that would be left on the table.
The bottom line is if LeBron was not going to support Morey’s right to speak out against what he perceived as an injustice then he should have simply said nothing as James Harden and Russell Westbrook did this week and as Steve Kerr and Steph Curry wisely did last week.
LeBron has since put out a couple of tweets to further explain his admonishment of Morey but he still seems to not get that Morey wasn’t wrong. LeBron is on the wrong side of this.
I would never suggest LeBron just shut up and dribble. But I will see Keep Your Head Up and Dribble, Bruh!
You can follow and contact Terrance Harris on Twitter @terranceharris.