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Shaq Blasts China: ‘We’re Going To Say Whatever We Want To Say, When We Want To Say It’
Shaquille O'Neal appears on NBC News' "Today" show
Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal slammed China on Tuesday while discussing the NBA’s controversial stance to cower to the Communist Party of China (CPC) by censoring criticisms around the league directed at China’s human rights abuses and clamp down on freedom.

Shaq made the remarks during TNT’s pre-game show on the opening night of the NBA season Tuesday, defending Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey’s decision to tweet support for the protesters in Hong Kong.

“As American people, we do a lot of business in China,” O’Neal said. “And they know and understand our values and we understand their values. And one of our best values in America is free speech. We’re allowed to say what we want to say and we’re allowed to speak up on injustices, and that’s just how it goes.”

A few weeks ago, Morey tweeted out a graphic that stated: “Fight For Freedom Stand With Hong Kong.”

“The Houston Rockets suddenly find themselves in the middle of a geopolitical controversy that could put their chief front-office executive’s job in jeopardy,” The Ringer reported. “After general manager Daryl Morey expressed support in a since-deleted tweet for pro-democracy efforts in Hong Kong, the Chinese government, the Chinese Basketball Association, and various Chinese businesses quickly denounced Morey and moved to sever ties with the Rockets. As a consequence, league sources told The Ringer that Rockets ownership has debated Morey’s employment status and whether to replace him.”

Shaq stood up for Morey, saying that he did the right thing by calling out injustices being committed by China.

“Daryl Morey was right,” O’Neal said. “Whenever you see something going on wrong anywhere in the world, you should have the right to say that’s not right, and that’s what he did.”

“Here, we have the right to speak,” O’Neal continued. “And especially with social media, we’re going to say whatever we want to say, when we want to say it.”


O’Neal’s words were in stark contrast to what his former teammate, Lebron James, said recently about China.

“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 said on October 15. “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.”

“So, just be careful what we tweet and say and what we do even though, yes, we do have freedom of speech there can be a lot of negatives that comes with that too,” James concluded.

After facing intense backlash online, James played the victim, suggesting that people needed to sympathize with him.

“Let me clear up the confusion. I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of the tweet,” James tweeted. “I’m not discussing the substance. Others can talk About that.”

“My team and this league just went through a difficult week. I think people need to understand what a tweet or statement can do to others,” James added. “And I believe nobody stopped and considered what would happen. Could have waited a week to send it.”

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