It was more than a year ago that NBA superstar LeBron James bristled at the notion that he ought to just “shut up and dribble” rather than express his sociopolitical views.
James immediately fired back at the comment by Fox News host Laura Ingraham after the 2018 NBA All-Star Game:
“I will not shut up and dribble. I owe it to my peers. I owe it to my fans. I owe it to the youth. I owe it … to everybody that has laid the path for me to get to this point.”
In what now resounds with irony, CBS Sports stated in 2018:
“Lebron James has never shied away from sensitive issues. He’s known for being an activist and uses his platform as an athlete to share his thoughts on the world.”
In response to Houston Rockets’ General Manager Daryl Morey’s now famous tweet expressing solidarity with the Hong Kong protests against China’s Communist regime, James offered the following mind-numbing response on Monday:
We all talk about this freedom of speech, yes, we all do have freedom of speech, but at times there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you’re not thinking about others and you’re only thinking about yourself. I don’t want to get into a word or sentence feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke. And so many people could have been harmed not only financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually. 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.
The level of ignorance on James’ part is staggering. It’s abundantly clear that he is absolutely clueless, if not altogether craven. Here is the NBA’s most recognizable player as well as one of the greatest to ever play the game, actively shilling for the Chinese government. This is the very same player once dubbed by the Undefeated as “the most powerful voice in his profession.”
Writing for The Athletic, Shams Charania reported that last week James lead a players-only discussion on the relationship between the NBA and China. According to Charania, James did not want players to speak out on the horrific injustices being committed by the Chinese government because they felt confused or uncomfortable about the subject. Of course, these very same players have no problem whatsoever letting loose when it comes to their criticisms of America.
More importantly, the issue is not at all some vexing deliberation over geopolitics from the likes of James and the NBA. The issue is money and sponsorships. Nike is intimately connected to China and James is easily the shoe company’s biggest star. The NBA also has billions of dollars tied to China, according to Bloomberg.
It seems that, more than anything else, many, if not most, of the players in the supposedly “woke” league have gone decidedly corporate. Countless players have millions of dollars tied up in deals and sponsorships directly related to China. In 2017, the Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson signed an $80 million deal with Chinese shoe company, Anta.
Perhaps, James Harden’s rather pathetic quip last week to Agence France-Presse summarizes the extent to just how low the NBA and its players have stooped. The NBA’s 2018 MVP and notorious traveler brazenly stated, like only a good comrade could: “We apologize. We love China.”