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LeBron James says his comments on Daryl Morey's Hong Kong tweet were taken out of context

Wednesday 16 October 2019 07:09, UK

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks to the media during media day on September 27, 2019 at the UCLA Health Training Center in El Segundo, California

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has told reporters he believes his comments on Monday - regarding a tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey in favour of an independent Hong Kong - were taken out of context, calling the circumstances as a whole "tough."

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"I mean obviously it's a tough situation that we're all in right now, as an association," James said on Tuesday, adding that he often feels that his words are taken out of context. "Us as athletes, owners, GMs, whatever, so forth. I think when the issue comes up, if you feel passionate about it or you feel like it's something that you want to talk about, then so be it."

James said Monday - after the Lakers returned from a tour in China - he believed Morey was "either misinformed or not really educated on the situation" and didn't consider the consequences before posting his tweet.

LeBron James pictured at the Lakers-Nets exhibition in Shenzhen, China 5:27
LeBron James said Rockets GM Daryl Morey may have been 'misinformed' before tweeting his support of pro-Hong Kong protesters - credit KABC

"So many people could have been harmed not only financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually," James said on Monday. "So just be careful what we tweet and say and we do, even though, yes, we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that, too."

After backlash to James' comments, he tweeted a follow up on Monday night, writing, "Let me clear up the confusion. I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of (Morey's) tweet. I'm not discussing the substance. Others can talk about that."

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James' Monday comments and tweets drew plenty of criticism, including from many in Hong Kong, where protestors were seen stomping on and burning his jerseys on basketball courts in the city. Speaking from the Lakers' facility Tuesday, James said he had not seen those images and was not monitoring the backlash.

"I haven't been paying attention to it much besides what I said and what we're trying to do here," he said.

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A worker removes a promotional banner from a building for the National Basketball Association (NBA) October 10 preseason game in China
Image: A worker removes a promotional banner from a building for the National Basketball Association (NBA) October 10 preseason game in China

James elaborated somewhat on the discussion about free speech on Tuesday.

"I also don't think that every issue should be everybody's problem, as well," James said. "There's multiple things that we haven't talked about that happen in our own country that we don't bring up. There's things that happen in my own community. There's issues all over the world.

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"I think the best thing we can do is, if you feel passionate about it, talk about it. If you don't have a lot of knowledge about it or you don't quite understand it, I don't think you should talk about it. I think it just puts you in a tough position."

James finished his media session by saying he won't discuss the subject moving forward, with hopes of avoiding distractions around the team.

Caris LeVert fires a jumper over Anthony Davis 1:26
Highlights from the Brooklyn Nets' preseason clash with the Los Angeles Lakers in Shenzhen

"I won't talk about it again, because I'll be cheating my team-mates by continuing to harp on something that won't benefit us," James said.

Morey has not been disciplined for his since-deleted tweet that included a logo and the words, "Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong."

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Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta spoke out against Morey and his tweet, and Rockets star James Harden said afterward, "We apologise. You know, we love China. We love playing there," while standing next to team-mate Russell Westbrook in Tokyo.

LeBron James is guarded by Rodions Kurucs 2:15
Highlights of the Brooklyn Nets' preseason clash with the Los Angeles Lakers in Shanghai

According to an ESPN report Monday, players asked NBA commissioner Adam Silver whether Morey would face any ramifications from the league, with several arguing the point that if a player did or said something that cost the league millions, that player would face repercussions.

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In the days following Morey's tweet, Chinese state television decided to not air the Brooklyn Nets-Lakers preseason games played in China, and numerous Chinese companies suspended business with the NBA.

Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous region in China, is in the midst of months-long protests with Beijing sensitive to foreign influence on the unrest.

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