Only Thinking About Yourself
JACOB DENNINGER: With the NBA attempting to expand into China, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey set off a geopolitical sports crisis earlier this month when he tweeted an image with the words “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”
China’s authoritarian regime, which is currently in a standoff with pro-democracy protesters in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong, did not take the tweet well. They did not allow NBA preseason games being played in China to be broadcast in the country, and effectively cut all ties with the Houston Rockets.
The NBA — normally a rare bastion of free speech in the sports world — went into damage control mode. Any commitment to free speech went out the window in an attempt to appease the authoritarian regime in Beijing and preserve their financial interests in China. Where they should have defended Morey’s first amendment rights, instead they criticized him.
LeBron James piled on the NBA criticism of Morey. “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.
Morey is not the one who is only thinking about himself. Even though he’s not directly affected by what happens in Hong Kong, Morey supported the people fighting for freedom there. James, on the other hand, put his own financial interests over the free speech rights of his fellow Americans and the freedom of Hong Kong. James knows he needs the approval of the Chinese Communist Party to peddle his Nike shoes, sell tickets to his “Space Jam 2” movie, and keep his games on Chinese television.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” James is normally not afraid to stand up for what he thinks is right, but here, in a time of challenge and controversy, James failed the test. He defended his own financial interests instead of free speech and global human rights, and it will be a stain on his reputation for years to come.
Jacob Denninger is a sophomore in the College and Government major from Massachusetts.