What the hell’s wrong with LeBron James?
He can have his opinions, and he can share them. We should be glad he does because then we know what he’s really about, what’s important to him. He is one of the most famous people on the planet, after all.
Democracy in Hong Kong, though, and China’s threat to it does not fit into that category. Why? Could it have anything to do with his business interests in China, his shoe sales, his standing there from which he profits?
There’s no spinning LeBron’s recent comments about the China-Hong Kong issue and Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s call for folks to stand for freedom.
He criticized Morey, using words like “misinformed” and “not educated.”
And then, he followed that with a justification for his position, saying, among other things, “I think when an issue comes up, and you feel passionate about it, or it’s something you want to talk about, then so be it. I don’t think every issue should be everybody’s problem, as well.”
Wait a minute. Who made LeBron god here? I don’t think every issue should be everybody’s problem?
Does that mean the issues that James has been so publicly passionate about, those dealing with racism and other injustices in this country, are his problem but not the problem of others? Which problems are his and which are yours, and who should decide or divide those? Who should join in and highlight injustices, speak out against them, do something about them, and who should look the other way and ignore them?
Who decides who’s educated and who’s uneducated, who’s informed and who’s misinformed? What should be spoken out against and what shouldn’t?
James has made himself look bad here, selfish and self-absorbed.
The irony in him implying that Morey was uninformed is rich. Of course, Morey, probably under pressure, said something akin to that himself after the firestorm that erupted following his original tweet.
Now, protestors in Hong Kong are shouting tributes to Morey and burning James in effigy. So, even in his expression of his opinion encouraging others not to express their opinion, LeBron finds himself in the middle of the storm.
More irony there.
His underscoring of the fact that speaking out has its ramifications … well, ramifications of one sort or another are boomeranging back at James now.
Let’s say it the way it is here, the way we’ve already said it: Freedom isn’t free. Freedom of speech isn’t free.
LeBron essentially encouraging those who are deeply concerned with the erosion of liberty and human rights and the autonomy the people were promised in Hong Kong to keep their big bazoos shut is pathetic. It’s his opinion, but it’s a sorry one.
But then, I shouldn’t speak out on it because it isn’t my problem, it’s only my misinformed position. On the other hand, I’m not directly hauling in wagonloads of cash from business dealings in China.
The important question is this: Is it OK that LeBron feels so strongly about the causes close to his heart, but turns away from causes — and criticizes those who take them up — that are close to other people’s hearts from which he could be damaged financially?
You decide. It’s your right. But speaking up for democracy has always seemed a good thing to do.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Jake Scott weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.