October 24, 2019
NBA legend turned commentator Shaquille O’Neal is weighing in on the controversy brewing between the NBA and China, and it’s clear he not impressed with players and coaches kowtowing to communists.
“As American people we do a lot of business in China, and they know and understand our values and we understand their values, and one of best values here in America is freedom of speech,” Shaq said during TNT’s pregame show to open up the NBA season.
Shaq on Daryl Morey/China "One of our best values here in America is free speech we're allowed to say what we want to say and we are allowed to speak out on injustices and that's just how it goes. and if people don't understand that that's something they have to deal with. pic.twitter.com/vefcHSPlMD
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) October 22, 2019
O’Neal was referencing the recent comments by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey, who tweeted support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong fighting against the Chinese government. The Oct. 4 tweet prompted Chinese partners to cut ties with the NBA and shut down broadcasts of preseason games and promotional events in the country this month.
The tweet – “Fight for Freedom, Stand with Hong Kong” – cost the NBA and its biggest stars a lot of money in the world’s largest market, and some of the league’s top money-makers, including LeBron James and James Harden, apologized and criticized Morey for challenging China’s communist leaders.
O’Neal offered a different perspective on Tuesday.
“We’re allowed to say what we want to say and we’re allowed to speak up about injustices and that’s just how it goes,” Shaq said. “If people don’t understand that, that’s just something they have to deal with.
“I just think it was unfortunate for both parties and you have people speaking when they don’t know what they’re talking about,” he continued. “Daryl Morey was right, whenever you see something wrong going on anywhere in the world, you should have the right to say, ‘that’s not right,’ and that’s what he did.”
O’Neal, perhaps the best center to ever dominate the NBA, acknowledged that business can conflict with that obligation, but that’s life.
“When it comes to business, sometimes you have to tip-toe around things, but again, they understand our values and we understand our values and here we have the right to speak,” he said. “Especially with social media, we’re going to say whatever we want to say, whenever we want to say it.”
O’Neal’s comments take a jab at James, who seemingly sided with China when he chided Morey for putting the league’s lucrative deals in that country at risk for the sake of freedom.
“When you’re misinformed or you’re not educated about something – and I’m just talking about the tweet itself – you never know the ramifications that can happen,” James preached. “So many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but physically, emotionally (and) spiritually.”
The backlash was brutal, from Hong Kong protestors who burned their number 23 jerseys in the streets, to U.S. leaders who pointed out the obvious hypocrisy in the NBA star’s self-serving comments.
“Clearly (James) is the one who isn’t educated on the situation at hand,” Florida Sen. Rick Scott tweeted. “It’s sad to see him join the chorus kowtowing to Communist China and putting profits over human rights for Hong Kong. I was there two weeks ago. They’re fighting for freedom and the autonomy they were promised.”
“This kind of garbage is hard to take,” Josh Hawley, Scott’s colleague from Missouri, posted to Twitter. “News flash: people are being harmed – shot, beaten, gassed – right now in Hong Kong. By China. By the Communist Party the NBA is so eager to appease.”
This article was posted: Thursday, October 24, 2019 at 4:52 am