It began with what seemed to be a harmless tweet that read, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.” But upon further investigation it was discovered that the tweet was a known slogan associated with the pro-democracy protesters of Hong Kong seeking justice and freedom from communist China. The tweet came from Daryl Morey, General Manager of the Houston Rockets, the team of former center and Chinese icon Yao Ming and because of the team’s many connections to China through Ming the tweet seemed misguided and insensitive. Quickly the owner of the Rockets distanced himself from his general manager’s tweet, stating that the comments did not speak for the organization followed by similar statements from Morey, who made it clear that the tweet was his own and not the organizations.
What began as a seeming harmless tweet quickly became a national incident with geopolitical implications as the government of China began to pull the plug on scheduled NBA games while several NBA teams were in China for the contests. With billions of dollars attached to various business ventures in China the implications of such a rift with the government could be quite costly not only for the league but several individual athletes and business industries with lucrative ties in China. The NBA Commission became flustered going back and forth with statements that seemed to be neutral on the tweets but finally supported the time held principle of free-speech that is honored in America in support of Morey. And then things went sideways when LeBron James was asked to comment on the incident and the tweet of Morey. LeBron’s comments portrayed a position that suggested he was critical of Morey and his tweet, calling it misinformed and Morey uneducated. And now the incident has become an opportunity to once again shift the focus from Daryl Morey to another African American male, namely LeBron James.
Many, particularly conservatives, have castigated James for his unAmerican stance of refusing to support Morey’s tweet of those seeking democracy in Hong Kong and the sacred right of free speech in America. And here is where I find this criticism of James to be ironic and hypocritical at the same time.
Have we all forgotten someone named Colin Kaepernick who in the United States exercised his right of free speech by silently and non-violently protesting against the killing of unarmed innocent African Americans? Where were the chorus of voices supporting his right to free speech from conservatives in his behalf? Why did they not come forward to support Colin Kaepernick, when he was taking a knee during the national anthem in protest? Conservatives seem more concerned with the free speech of the democratic freedom fighters in Hong Kong, than an African American who exercises the same right here in America. No, LeBron James is not the issue, Colin Kaepernick is the issue. He still is unemployed and still sits at home while quarterbacks with much less talent play for NFL teams in America today.
Whatever you may think about LeBron’s comments, if you truly believe he was wrong and out of line to mischaracterize the tweet of Daryl Morey and fail to support his right o free speech, then you must stand in support of Colin Kaepernick. To do less is to reveal your own bias and hypocrisy.