NBA superstar LeBron James announced Tuesday that he’ll no longer be talking about the league’s latest scandal concerning Communist China as it’s a “huge political thing” and basketball players are “not politicians.”
“I’d be cheating my teammates by continuing to harp on something that won’t benefit us trying to win a championship because that’s what we’re here for,” James told reporters, according to CNN.
“We’re not politicians. I think it’s a huge political thing but we are leaders and we can step up at times. But … you don’t feel like you should speak upon things you shouldn’t have to,” he added.
James’ comments came one day after he complained about Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeting out support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. Additionally, to much backlash, James criticized the principle of freedom of speech, noting that it can have “a lot of negatives.”
“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,” the NBA star said, as reported by The Daily Wire. “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,” the 34-year-old added.
James, of course, has been unflinchingly political in the past. In 2016, the Ohio native endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president, even attending one of her campaign rallies. He also spoke out against the Trump administration’s immigration policies in February 2017, as reported by USA Today, and ironically emphasized, “It’s important that we as athletes continue to use the platform we have to speak up for what we believe in.”
In August 2017, James tweeted, “Hate has always existed in America. Yes we know that but Donald Trump just made it fashionable again! Statues has nothing to do with us now!”
Hate has always existed in America. Yes we know that but Donald Trump just made it fashionable again! Statues has nothing to do with us now!
— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 15, 2017
In 2018, the LA Laker said “it’s a bad time” in America “with the president of the United States.” “While we cannot change what comes out of that man’s mouth, we can continue to alert the people that watch us, that listen to us, as this is not the way,” he declared.
James has also referred to President Donald Trump as a “bum” and a “so-called president,” as highlighted by USA Today.
Moreover, the basketball star famously pushed back hard over the notion that he should “shut up and dribble” when hit with criticism over his outspoken nature.
“If pro athletes and entertainers want to freelance as political pundits, then they should not be surprised when they’re called out for insulting politicians,” Fox News host Laura Ingraham said of James’ anti-Trump comments in February 2018.
James responded by posting a photo to Instagram that displayed the words, “I am more than an athlete,” according to Sports Illustrated.
.@KingJames on China/Hong Kong: “I won’t be talking about it again … we’re not politicians, I think it’s a huge political thing … it was a challenging trip for all of us in China.” pic.twitter.com/w2gLb7BgnV
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) October 16, 2019
Related: Turkish-Born Celtics Player RIPS LeBron Over China Comments: ‘Freedom Is Not Free’