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LeBron James is good at basketball and appears to be a good dad.
Upon those two foundations the woke sports media has helped to construct the idea that James is a modern day Muhammad Ali, an eloquent spokesperson confronting society’s ills through the prism of sports. I eviscerated that argument in my most recent book, “Republicans Buy Sneakers Too,” by pointing out that LeBron has never said anything particularly intelligent about politics or, and this is key, ever risked anything with any of his public pronouncements either, but the Ali comparison has continued for years and years despite the fact that it’s never made sense at all.
Unlike Ali, who risked imprisonment, his titles, and public scorn, over his controversial opposition to the Vietnam War and the draft, LeBron has said nothing of any note at all throughout his entire career.
So when the NBA’s global imbroglio with China emerged last week, I wondered whether LeBron might take the opportunity to speak out to a world audience about China’s mistreatment of its people. Sure, that would be a risky move that could potentially cost LeBron money, but endorsing freedom of speech and democracy in China would be a stand Ali would have taken. One that would likely be viewed favorably for generations, a stand that would put LeBron on the right side of history for all time.
Of course I was skeptical LeBron would risk anything at all given the fact that he’s never risked anything at all in his career, but even I was blown away by the sheer enormity of LeBron’s embrace of a Chinese dictatorship.
In order to keep the Chinese money spigot turned on — and ensure “Space Jam 2” receives full distribution in that country — there really is no limit to LeBron’s hypocrisy and willingness to sell American ideals in exchange for Chinese currency.
After a week to contemplate what he might say about this issue, LeBron offered a full throated defense of China and a condemnation of Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s embrace of democracy.
How do we know LeBron James’s lips are moving? Because China told him to speak.
Here’s video of LeBron discussing China last night:
LeBron James rips Daryl Morey, says Morey was uneducated. Says, “We do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negatives that come with that too.” Really. pic.twitter.com/ZTw6a3FZ5n
It’s important to note before we deconstruct all the levels of stupidity here that LeBron had a full week to come up with a statement on this issue. That is, he wasn’t surprised or caught off guard by this question. He spent a week being completely silent and then this was what he chose to say.
On one level, it’s incredibly funny that LeBron thought he was going to put out the NBA’s China fire with these comments. Especially because it went just like this.
LeBron to Adam Silver: “Don’t worry, I’m about to end this China mess.” pic.twitter.com/gtuAga9Mfw
But on another level it’s unbelievably insulting to Americans of all political persuasions that a man who is going to become a billionaire because of American freedoms is willing to sell those same exact freedoms to China in exchange for a bit more money.
Which is why this Enes Kanter Tweet, sent after LeBron’s comments, is so profoundly interesting. Many of the biggest defenders of American ideals are our immigrants because unlike most of us who were born here and never experienced a country without America’s freedoms, they actually know how precious our rights truly are.
LeBron James had to stay in a five star hotel in China last week & play basketball though. Please show some respect for what he went through. https://t.co/zrkmwhhpYU
So let’s unpack exactly what LeBron said last night about Daryl Morey’s Tweet.
“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. When you only think about yourself.”
Amazingly, LeBron begins his criticism of Daryl Morey by stating that Morey’s Tweet in support of democratic rights for 1.4 billion Chinese people was sent because Morey was “only think(ing) about himself” and “not thinking about others.”
Seriously, this is where he begins his comments, with a fundamental misapprehension of what Morey’s Tweet represented.
This wasn’t selfishness on Morey’s part, it represented a full embrace of American ideals — an expression of a belief that all people in China deserved the same rights as all Americans. Far from being selfish, it was being selfless.
But, unbelievably, LeBron’s comments got worse from there.
“I don’t believe, 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 misspoke.”
First, Daryl Morey has an undergraduate degree from Northwestern and a graduate MBA degree from MIT. He makes a living analyzing basketball data in an effort to maximize wins for his basketball team.
Now the fact that Morey is highly educated doesn’t mean he’s knowledgeable on world political issues, but if you had to choose which person was more likely to be educated on any international incident in the world, would you pick the guy who graduated from high school or the guy who graduated from Northwestern and MIT?
You’d have to make the Northwestern and MIT grad a -10,000 favorite here, right?
(That’s not to say high school grads can’t be smart, just that I don’t think a high school grad wins very many complex international arguments against a Northwestern and MIT grad.)
So it’s not just that LeBron is saying Morey’s wrong on these issues, it’s that LeBron is also letting you know that he’s actually the person who understands these issues better than Morey does. Otherwise why would he be criticizing Morey?
LeBron’s saying he’s right and Morey’s wrong.
But the larger issue here is, THIS SITUATION IN CHINA ISN’T COMPLICATED!
Despite what others like Steve Kerr have tried to sell you, Morey spoke out in support of Hong Kong protesters who are seeking to preserve their democratic rights, which are slowly being constricted by communist rulers in China.
MOREY SPOKE OUT IN FAVOR OF DEMOCRACY.
You don’t need to have a doctorate in Chinese history to know that democracy is good. This is like believing cancer is bad. It’s a moral position that isn’t remotely complicated.
We don’t need to equivocate here.
The arc of moral history bends in favor of democracy and individual freedoms. This isn’t a complex issue. We can disagree on how to apply the second amendment in the modern era or what the limits of a right to an abortion should be, but no American should disagree with the principle that more democracies in the world represents a good thing.
LeBron is apologizing for Daryl Morey believing that democracy in China is a good thing.
He’s doing China’s bidding, a servant of dictators.
“And so many people could have been been harmed, not only financially, but physically, emotionally, spiritually.”
Yes, LeBron’s right here. Many people could have been harmed financially by Morey’s comments, including he and other NBA players and owners. (Oops, I mean NBA governors. It was racist of me to use the O word, I apologize.)
But that’s why this issue is of such paramount importance right now. We’re at a pivot point in world history. Are we going to allow China to dictate terms of engagement with us and the rest of the world or are we going to dictate our own terms of engagement?
This matters a great deal.
Will a communist dictatorship lead the world in the 21st century or will a capitalistic democracy?
America is the greatest shining light for liberty in world history. While our country is not without flaws, we stand on the side of democracy, free speech, and equal rights for all citizens around the world. China does not. Are we willing to sell those ideals in exchange for Chinese communist cash?
LeBron’s answer is yes.
I suspect many of you would answer this question differently.
But make no mistake what’s really happening here: LeBron is speaking out in favor of a Chinese dictatorship entirely to preserve his own financial interests, to ensure that Space Jam 2 is released in China and Nike can continue to sell his shoes all over China.
LeBron’s selling his soul for money.
The rest of LeBron’s sentence, after the financial part, is total crap.
Who was physically, emotionally and spiritually in danger here? None of the NBA players. Unless, and this is even more ridiculous, LeBron thinks China was poised to arrest him and put him and his teammates in prison because of Morey’s Tweet.
If that’s actually the case then it raises a far larger question, why in the world did the NBA have its players in the country and keep them there? Worse, how can you partner with a country that you believe could put you in prison for disagreeing with them?
The real people who are physically, emotionally and spiritually in danger? The Chinese citizens in concentration camps, the Chinese citizens without freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom to read an uncensored Internet, the Hong Kong protesters who are being attacked on a daily basis by Chinese police.
Those are the people who are in physical, emotional, and spiritual danger here.
Not any of LeBron’s posse.
“So just be careful what we Tweet and we say and what we do. Even though, yes, we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negatives that come with that too.”
Ah, yes, the real problem here was Morey using his freedom of speech to endorse democracy around the world.
Yes, that certainly has a lot of negatives.
How dare he?
To be fair to LeBron, one of the flaws of freedom of speech can be, follow me along here, that if you speak out and are an idiot eventually the world will discover that you are an idiot.
And even worse than an idiot, a hypocritical idiot.
Which is exactly what happened to LeBron here.
What LeBron wants Daryl Morey to do is to shut up and general manage the Houston Rockets basketball team. This is, of course, the same LeBron James who was furious when people tired of his political shots at Donald Trump and told him to shut up and dribble.
LeBron was furious when that happened to him, but he’s either too dumb or too in love with Chinese money to realize he’s telling Morey to do the exact same thing.
Here’s the truth of the matter, despite the illusion of wokeness that many of you bought into LeBron James only cares about making money.
If being woke is good for his money, he’ll be woke. If defending his communist Chinese masters is good for LeBron James, then he’ll defend his communist Chinese masters, but ultimately all that matters to LeBron is that the money keeps coming, no matter what he’s forced to sell in the process.
Which is why I’d like to congratulate LeBron on his new Nike marketing slogan.
It’s absolutely perfect: