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LeBron James was reportedly steamed over former Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s 2019 tweet backing Hong Kong protesters in their fight against a national security law.
Morey had tweeted during NBA preseason about his support for Hong Kong protesters and it had a ripple effect overseas just as the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets were scheduled to play a pre-season game in China before the start of the season. Morey would later delete the tweet and post an apology, but the damage to the league’s reputation in the communist country was already done.
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New details about the tweet and the fallout emerged in an ESPN report on Thursday.
James and Nets team owner Joe Tsai, who has deep ties to the Chinese government, pushed Morey after the tweet, according to ESPN. But these claims have reportedly been denied.
The Lakers superstar was working on the movie ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ at the time and, according to ESPN, “raged” at players about Morey. James’ film will never be released in China, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
As the games went on, James and the overseas players in China remained silent about it.
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Back at the then Staples Center, James spoke out.
“I’m not here to judge how the league has handled it. I just think, when you’re misinformed or uneducated on something – and I’m just talking about the tweet itself – you never know the ramifications it can happen,” he said.
“We all see what this has done, not just for our league but for all of us in America, for people in China as well. Sometimes you have to think about the things you say that can cause harm not only to yourself. but for the majority of people, I think this is just a great example of that.
Tsai reportedly pushed the NBA to fire Morey because of the tweet, but the Nets denied that claim.
“Joe Tsai did not speak to any Mr. Morey owners after the tweet and it is absolutely untrue that he was advocating for anything to happen to Morey,” Nets spokeswoman Mandy Gutmann said. at ESPN. “Only the Rockets make personal decisions about their team.”
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Morey would later leave the Rockets for front office work with the Philadelphia 76ers. James won the NBA championship that season after the league moved to the Orlando bubble because of the coronavirus pandemic.