LeBron shifts focus from China to championship pursuit
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 protesters chanted support for the Rockets’ GM on Tuesday, per an ESPN report. At that protest, LeBron jerseys were trampled and even burned.
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 some of 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 $1M 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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