Money and Marketing: Chinese censorship creates brand risks for NBA, Apple
One of the NBA’s biggest stars waded into a controversy over freedom of speech and the business of basketball in China, stirring a social-media storm.
LeBron James told reporters that Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey was “misinformed and not educated on the situation” in sending a tweet that was supportive of anti-Beijing protesters in Hong Kong.
Morey’s post provoked a backlash in China that led to the cancellation of some NBA events and sponsorships in the country and prompted a blackout of exhibition games by the state broadcaster. James, among the sport’s highest-paid stars, suggested Morey should not have spoken out without considering the risks to players and others involved with two exhibition games played in the country.
“I don’t want to get into a word- or sentence-feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand,” James told reporters. “And so many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but physically, emotionally, spiritually.”
James’ comments came after his team, the Los Angeles Lakers, squared off against the Brooklyn Nets in a preseason game on Saturday in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. Before that game, the NBA said it would block media access to teams playing exhibition games in the country as it looked to contain the crisis that erupted in its most important offshore market after Morey’s tweet.