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Sport LeBron James addresses 'tough situation' after China backlash

04:35  16 october  2019
04:35  16 october  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

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LeBron James made headlines with his remarks Monday about China , Hong Kong and a pro-Hong Kong tweet, some would say for all the wrong James faced immediate backlash after admonishing Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey for saying he was “misinformed” for tweeting support

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 Speaking from the Lakers’ facility Tuesday, James said he hadn’t see those images and wasn’t monitoring the backlash .

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LeBron James standing in front of a crowd © Zhong Zhi, Getty Images LeBron James

James faced immediate backlash after admonishing Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey for saying he was “misinformed” for tweeting support for the Hong Kong protesters. James tried to clarify to reporters and on Twitter that he believed Morey was misinformed on the ramifications it would have during and after the NBA’s preseason trip there last week than the actual protest. Nonetheless, James did not share support for the Hong Kong protesters, or question China’s human-rights record.

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LeBron James on Tuesday addressed the backlash he sparked when he waded into the NBA-Hong Kong controversy — saying he understood why critics James made the statement to reporters at the Lakers practice facility in El Segundo, Calif., Tuesday after the team returned from China , where NBA

LeBron James has moved to clarify his comments regarding Houston Rockets GM’s support for Hong Kong in their dispute with China , calling the situation I think it just puts you in a tough position." And with that said, the Lakers star said he would draw a line under the topic in order to keep the focus on

Why not?

“When the issue comes up and you feel passionate about it and you feel like it’s something you want to talk about, then so be it,” James told reporters following practice Tuesday at the Lakers’ facility. “I also don’t think every issue should be everybody’s problem as well. When things come up, there’s multiple things that we haven’t talked about that have happened in our own country that we don’t bring up.”

As for the public backlash he faced after his initial comments and tweets Monday?

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

The Lakers’ star has criticized Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric. He has spoken out in recent years when police officers have killed unarmed black men. In the past eight years, his family foundation has completed various projects to help the less fortunate in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. 

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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 Speaking from the Lakers' facility Tuesday, James said he hadn't see those images and wasn't monitoring the backlash .

“I’m trying to make sure the inner-city kids that grow up in my hometown can have a brighter future and look at me as an inspiration to get out of the hellhole of the inner city,” James said. “We don’t talk about those stories enough. We want to talk about so many other things as well. There’s issues all over the world. So 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 quite understand it, I don’t think you should talk about it because it puts you in a tough position.”

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James has already put himself in a tough position because of his stance. 

Shortly after speaking with reporters before Monday’s exhibition against the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center, James clarified his comments further in two separate Twitter posts because he believed his criticism of Morey was taken out of context. James also wrote that Morey “could have waited a week to send it.”

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James said he believed Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey "wasn't educated on the situation at hand" when he expressed support Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James , shown here during a game on Monday, has weighed in on comments made by Houston Rockets General

LeBron James said Daryl Morey was "misinformed" in his tweet about Hong Kong protesters, but clarified he Instead, James believed Morey remained "misinformed" on how China would react to his tweet. "I believe he was misinformed or not really educated on the situation ," James said of Morey.

Perhaps then, the NBA would not have faced as much backlash from the Chinese government. Various charity or sponsorship events wouldn't have been cancelled. NBA players wouldn't have become vulnerable to any loss of Chinese endorsement deals.

“Hindsight is 20/20 at this point. We don’t know the landscape of the situation if a week would’ve went by and a tweet would’ve happened,” James said. “It’s easy to say. But we have no idea. It was a challenging trip for all of us that were in China. If you were not there, then you just can’t relate.”

Either way, the landscape still appeared tense when James finally spoke in Los Angeles. Hong Kong protesters either defaced or burned James’ jerseys. Boston Celtics player Enes Kanter, who has not been able to visit his family in Turkey for five years after having his passport revoked and canceled a trip to London last year in fear of his life, tweeted ''FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.''

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Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James told reporters that his comments regarding Hong Kong “I mean obviously it’s a tough situation that we’re all in right now, as an association,” said James 14 — after the Lakers returned from a tour in China — he believed Morey was “either misinformed or not

Basketball superstar LeBron James has weighed in on a row between the NBA and China , saying a team manager His latest comments were praised in China but drew ire in the US. During a pre-game interview in Los Angeles on Monday, Mr James told reporters he believed Mr Morey was "misinformed".

Still, that did not prompt James to feel as if he needs to further study China’s politics and history so he can address it.

“I won’t talk about it again. I’d be cheating my teammates by continuing to harp on something that won’t benefit us,” James said. “We’re trying to win a championship. That’s what we’re here for. We’re not politicians. It’s a huge political thing. But we are leaders and we can step up at times. I’m not saying at this particular time but if you don’t feel like you should speak on things, you shouldn’t have to.”

In other words, James does not feel inclined to speak about the Hong Kong protesters’ hope for the semi-autonomous region to be independent of China. Or about China’s pervasive censorship or poor human rights record. Or about China’s demand to extradite suspected criminals off Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland.

James remained just as silent when former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Ira Newbie drafted a letter in 2007 to condemn China for condemning the Sudanese government during a genocide in Darfur. Then, James declined to sign the letter and contended he needed to learn more about the issue.

“I felt that I’ve tried to heal things throughout my whole life by just being who I am and playing the game that I love, playing it at a high level and that has brought a lot of people together,” said James, who formed a family foundation in 2004 and helped launch a public elementary school for at-risk children in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, last year. “I’m playing the game the right way with my teammates, being a model citizen in the community, being a respectful son, respectful husband, respectful dad and understanding that every time I leave the house, that it is so much bigger than just myself personally.”

Despite that platform, James also has sought to protect his business portfolio that sports business experts estimate is worth at least seven figures. He just made his 15th trip to China after making annual visits with Nike to Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzen, Shanghai, Wuhan and Xi’an to promote both his shoe and the game. He has also hosted a coaching clinic (2011), a Nike event that encouraged sports participation (2012), the Nike Rise program (2014-15) and a clinic for China’s Under-23 national team (2016).

Those within the NBA share James’ sentiments about wanting to maintain its relationship with China. The Lakers also traveled to China in 2013, and remain interested in being among the teams to make future visits.

“I stand back. He’s been remarkable with that throughout his career speaking up at the right times when it’s necessary and not doing so when it’s not,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “I stay out of that and trust him.”

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Still, the NBA had held out hope that tensions would thaw after the Lakers and Brooklyn Nets returned from China, remaining optimistic it will maintain its partnership with China that started nearly 30 years ago and has continued with preseason games since 2006.  Those tensions reemerged with James’ comments.

“It is a small bump in the road, but I think time heals all,” James said. “For all of us as Lakers and as an organization and the NBA, we want to continue to play this game that has brought so many people together.”

Contributing: Heather Tucker

Follow Mark Medina on Twitter @MarkG_Medina

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: LeBron James addresses 'tough situation' after China backlash

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