Last year, Daryl Morey sent a controversial tweet that almost broke the relationship between the NBA and China, one of the biggest commercial partners of the league. He showed his support to the Hong Kong protesters and the Asian country didn't like what Morey had to say about them.
Plenty of people supported the then Houston Rockets GM while others criticized him, including Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James. The King wasn't happy with Morey's comments, claiming he shouldn't have talked if he was uninformed about the whole situation.
"I’m not here to judge how the league handled the situation,” James said. “I just think that when you’re misinformed or you’re not educated about something — I’m just talking about the tweet itself — you never know the ramifications that can happen. We all see what that did — not only did for our league but for all of us in America and people in China as well. Sometimes you have to think through the things that you say and may cause harm not only for yourself but for the majority of people. And I think that’s just a prime example.”
A lot of people called out LeBron and called him an "anti-free speech" person for his comments about Morey but over a year after that, one of his teammates has explained what really led James to take a stance against Morey's tweet and everything that came with it. Jared Dudley recently opened up about that situation, explaining that the 36-year-old wasn't happy with Morey tweeting from America and putting a lot of people at risk in China.
"Back in the United States, Houston GM Daryl Morey tweets out sentiments that the Chinese government takes as an attack. And we’re the most high-profile American citizens in China at the time. Now he’s made things very hot for us. We were supposed to appear at a Special Olympics benefit event in Shanghai. You can see this giant twelve-story billboard from our hotel, which is advertising our appearance, and we watch in awe as they take it down.
"There are people surrounding the hotel where we’re staying. We’re getting death threats from pro-government people. We can’t leave. We didn’t practice. We didn’t take any tours. We just came over here because it’s our job to play the game, because the league wants to make money in the huge market. Now we’re not entirely sure if and when we’re going to see our families again.
"Adam Silver comes to China, literally sweating, to help cool things off for us. He has to negotiate his way in just to be able to see us and ensure our safe passage out of there. We just wanted to play our games and get the hell out. So when LeBron criticizes Daryl Morey for that tweet, everyone acts like he’s standing against free speech, but what he’s really saying is: You tweet something like that from the comfort of your own home, while actual players in your league are stranded in China, that’s not cool. You need to think for a minute about what the impact of that is on other people. Everyone’s hating on Bron, talking about how disappointed they are in him, but we see where he’s coming from."
As Dudley said, everything went after LeBron for those comments, explaining he had a lot of business interests in China and those comments didn't help him but Dudley shed light on the whole situation. Nobody but the players know what really happened during their time in China and after Morey tweeted what he tweeted.
This situation wasn't good for anybody, the Rockets' games weren't broadcasted in China and the league lived tense days with their relationship with China. James was just trying to defend his colleagues but not everybody was sold on that.