- Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal supported Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey for his tweet expressing support for protesters in Hong Kong that subsequently incited a controversy between the NBA and China.
- The NBA legend’s comments came during a broadcast of “Inside the NBA” on TNT just minutes before the first game of the 2019-2020 NBA season tipped off.
- O’Neal said “one our best values here in America is free speech” and defended Morey’s right to “speak up about injustices.”
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Just minutes before the first game of the 2019-2020 NBA season tipped off, Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal publicly defended Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey for his tweet expressing support for protesters in Hong Kong that subsequently incited a controversy between the NBA and China.
The legendary center and current sports television analyst said “Daryl Morey was right,” during a broadcast of “Inside the NBA” on TNT.
“We, as American people, do a lot of business in China,” O’Neal began. “And they know and understand our values and we understand their values. And one of our best values here in America is free speech. 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.”
“If people don’t understand that, that’s something they have to deal with,” he added.
O’Neal went on to explain that he understands how sometimes “you have to tiptoe around this” in the world of business, but that in the United States “we have the right to speak, especially with social media — we can say whatever we want to say, when we want to say it.”
In what was potentially an allusion to LeBron James’ incendiary comments on the NBA-China feud, O’Neal said the conflict has emboldened some people to speak “when they don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Well after Morey initially sent his tweet, James told members of the press that he believed the GM “wasn’t educated on the situation at hand.” Those comments sparked a flood of social media backlash, with many accusing James of prioritizing compensation over morality even after he tweeted that he meant Morey was uneducated on the potential impact of his tweet rather than its content.
—LeBron James (@KingJames) October 15, 2019
After James’ comments fanned the flames on the issue, NBA commissioner Adam Silver clarified that the league would not apologize for Morey’s tweet but that the conflict itself was unfortunate.
O’Neal was stronger in his defense of Morey, stating that “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.”
A video of O’Neal’s comments can be seen below:
—gifdsports (@gifdsports) October 22, 2019
Protests in Hong Kong have been going on for months, initially starting in opposition to a controversial extradition bill that would have allowed extradition of Hong Kongers to mainland China. The legislation has since been scrapped, but the protests have morphed into pro-democracy protests against what some see as encroachment by China.