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As LeBron James refuses to “shut up and dribble” over the NBA’s China controversy, Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers said that Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey was “right in saying” that Americans should support the Hong Kong protesters.
“I don’t know. I didn’t pay much attention to it other than what [Daryl Morey] said. And he was right in saying that. But there’s consequences to every action. I’ve been saying that as well … It’s a tough issue, clearly,” Rivers said, as reported by Jovan Buha of The Athletic.
Doc Rivers on the NBA’s situation with China: “I don’t know. I didn’t pay much attention to it other than what (Daryl Morey) said. And he was right in saying that. But there’s consequences to every action. I’ve been saying that as well. … It’s a tough issue clearly.”
— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) October 16, 2019
Contrast Rivers’ statement with that of LeBron James on Monday night, when the superstar said that Morey was uneducated about the situation in Hong Kong and should have waited before tweeting support for the protesters.
“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,” James told reporters on Monday. “I don’t want to get into a … feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand and he spoke. So many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”
The controversy only deepened for James when reports surfaced on Thursday that he had pressured NBA commissioner Adam Silver to punish Morey for supporting the Hong Kong protesters.
“Nearly a week ago today, in a Shanghai hotel room, or Shanghai hotel ballroom, Adam Silver got up and addressed the players, and LeBron James is one of the players who got up and spoke and said, ‘Hey, what are we doing here? Daryl Morey made these statements,'” Dave McMenamin of ESPN said, as reported by The Athletic. “You know damn well if a player made the same statements and caused such poor ramifications for the league, there would be some sort of league recourse.”
“There would be repercussions the player has to pay,” he continued. “You know, potentially this tweet could cost the NBA hundreds of millions of dollars. That could come out of the players’ pockets, and so that’s the double standard that was being addressed in that meeting.”
Other members of the NBA have expressed support for Daryl Morey while taking tacit swipes at James for throwing Morey under the bus. Enes Kanter of the Boston Celtics, for instance, said that professional athletes should speak out about these important issues, citing his own fight against the Turkish government.
“Professional athletes have an enormous opportunity to be a source of inspiration for the younger generation, lead by example, and prove to them that as long as you stand up for what you believe in, everything is possible,” he wrote in an op-ed for the Boston Globe. “I am looking forward to giving my best to the Boston Celtics and enjoying this new chapter of my NBA career with people in this great city who have welcomed me warmly.”
“I have a prominent platform and I want to use it to promote respect for human rights, democracy and personal freedom,” Kanter continued. “For me, this is bigger than basketball. Being a champion of tens of thousands of voiceless people back in my home country carries a risk that includes death threats and arrest warrants.”