NBA/China Notes: LeBron, Silver, Yao, Tencent

After making some eyebrow-raising comments about Rockets GM Daryl Morey and the NBA/China controversy on Monday, LeBron James briefly addressed the subject again on Tuesday, telling reporters that he hopes tension between the two sides dies down. However, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com details, James made it clear that he doesn’t want to continue discussing the situation going forward, preferring to focus on the Lakers‘ quest for a championship.

“I’d be cheating my teammates by continuing to harp on something that won’t benefit us,” James said. “We’re trying to win a championship. That’s what we’re here for. We’re not politicians. It’s a huge political thing. But we are leaders and we can step up at times. I’m not saying at this particular time, but if you don’t feel like you should speak on things, you shouldn’t have to.”

James’ critical comments of Morey didn’t go over well in Hong Kong, where protestors chanted support for the Rockets’ GM on Tuesday, per an ESPN report. At that protest, LeBron jerseys were trampled and even burnt.

Here’s more on the ongoing NBA/China situation:

  • Commissioner Adam Silver never did meet with Chinese Basketball Association chairman Yao Ming while he was in China, but they were speaking at least 10 times per day, a person with knowledge of the situation tells Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times.
  • Ganguli also writes that the NBA’s Chinese streaming partner Tencent, which suspended its broadcasts of preseason games in the wake of Morey’s tweet, resumed those broadcasts on Monday without explanation.
  • Dave McMenamin of ESPN shares an engaging deep dive into the Lakers‘ and Nets‘ meeting last week with Silver in Shanghai, providing details on how LeBron and Kyrie Irving spoke up during that session. Among McMenamin’s interesting tidbits: James, Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma, and Rajon Rondo all had promotional appearances in China canceled, with one unnamed Lakers player losing a $1MM endorsement deal with a Chinese company due to the controversy. Based on a separate report from Bill Oram of The Athletic, that player may have been Kuzma.
  • In a column on the China controversy, Sam Amick of The Athletic notes that Morey’s initial tweet supporting Hong Kong protestors was sparked by a specific development. Sources tell Amick that Morey’s message came in response to a new law enacted in Hong Kong banning face masks during public gatherings. The law is “widely seen as a tactic to identify dissidents,” Amick adds.
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12 thoughts on “NBA/China Notes: LeBron, Silver, Yao, Tencent

  1. DynamiteAdams

    Wait hold on, wasn’t Lebron the one who said he’s more than an athlete and he wouldn’t just shut up and dribble? Seems like he’s back to just being a dumb athlete that doesn’t understand politics. Spineless and hypocritical.

  2. carlos15

    Take a knee for injustice but support a country who tortured and oppressed their people. Makes sense.

  3. Skip, Tampa

    Guess what LBJ, you don’t own a team or have a contract to run the NBA. Punish Morey for being a man while you PUNK UP is BS.
    LBJ doesn’t have the spine, behind, guts or anything else to stand up for anything but Bank and expanding his social circle.
    Make no mistake, he’ll get another ring and more Bank.
    Yet be still be morally bankrupt clown show.
    What a waste of skin.

  4. madmanTX

    LeBron so worried about his Chinese money that Morey might be cutting off. It’s all about you, isn’t it? Punk.

    • omahaomaha

      That’s why MJ is greatest of all time! I’m sure his sponsors saw them burning his jerseys shoes etc in protest and told him to stop inserting his foot in his mouth

  5. bestno5

    It’s all about money….if the injustice is hurting their bottom line then it’s okay, but if it’s hurting their bottom line then it’s not okay.

  6. bestno5

    Let’s try that again…..it’s okay if the injustice doesn’t hurt their bottom line. If it’s hurts their bottom line then it’s not okay.

    I wonder how some of the athletes would feel if someone said they were misinformed when they stood up for injustice. I bet it would not have been okay.

  7. IslandFlava

    Guys can you stopped with all the political warfare, please?
    Let’s hoop, ok?
    This is a sports forum, not useless politics…
    Let’s focus on the NBA the season is starting in just a few days, it’s time to forget all the silliness about China & just sit back & let the best athletes in the world entertain us, right?

  8. x%sure

    Kuzma is already being (over)paid by Puma.

    People who are against China, try to buy goods from elsewhere, although it is hard sometimes to even know.

  9. I got the feeling that LBJ was trying to say the text created a problem because it was right before the Lakers departure for China. Nothing to do with judging the content of the text. He even said, I don’t know enough to comment on the actual situation. Although, there isn’t much to know. When he said there are consequences, I think he meant those consequences as referring to putting the Nets and Lakers in a precarious position on their upcoming trip.

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