Lakers’ LeBron James on NBA’s China controversy: “I don’t want to get into a … feud with Daryl Morey but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand and he spoke.”
Basketball superstar LeBron James has weighed in on a row between the NBA and China, saying a team manager who caused uproar with a tweet about Hong Kong “wasn’t educated” on the situation.
In a now-deleted tweet, Houston Rockets’ Daryl Morey expressed support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. He later apologised.
Mr James, the NBA’s best-known player, often speaks out on social issues.
His latest comments were praised in China but drew ire in the US.
During a pre-game interview in Los Angeles on Monday, Mr James told reporters he believed Mr Morey was “misinformed”.
“I don’t want to get into a word or sentence feud with Daryl Morey,” he said, “but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand and he spoke.”
Mr James added: “We do all have freedom of speech, but at times there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you’re not thinking about others and you’re only thinking about yourself.”
Mr James’ remarks sparked outrage from activists in Hong Kong, some US politicians and people on social media, with many users reposting one of his tweets from 2018 that quoted the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
One Republican senator, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, accused the athlete of “parroting communist propaganda”.
In a clarifying tweet, Mr James said he was referring to the consequences of Mr Morey’s comment, rather than the substance.
Chinese officials and media responded with outrage to Mr Morey’s original tweet, which referred to months of pro-democracy protests that have consumed Hong Kong, a territory that is part of China but enjoys unique freedoms.
The NBA – which is hugely popular in China – has struggled to respond to the situation, with some Chinese partners suspending relations with the league by cancelling broadcasts and sponsorships.
Mr James has spoken out in the past on issues concerning race and police brutality and the NBA has been praised for accepting protest among its players.
Mr James has significant financial interests in China, through his lifetime endorsement deal with Nike and via millions of fans.
|Men’s Ashes 2019: England v Australia, first Specsavers Test|
|Venue: Edgbaston Dates: 1-5 August Start time: 11:00 BST|
|Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and BBC Sport website, plus in-play highlights and text commentary|
England captain Joe Root will bat at number three in the first Ashes Test against Australia, fellow batsman Joe Denly has confirmed.
Denly will drop down to four for the opening match of the series, which starts at Edgbaston on Thursday.
“He rang me the other day and told me he wanted to bat three and for me to go in at four,” said Denly.
“I think Rooty just wanted to get involved in the game, get up there and get out in the middle.”
Australia hold the Ashes after their 4-0 victory down under in 2017-18, but England have not lost an Ashes series on home soil since 2001.
“I’m very excited. I wasn’t too fussed where I’d be batting, it’s just great to be in the XI,” added Denly.
“I’ve batted at four before for Kent and throughout my career, so it really wasn’t a big issue.”
Bancroft return would be ‘great story’
Australia coach Justin Langer says that batsman Usman Khawaja has been passed fit and will play, while bowlers Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle and Josh Hazlewood are “probably” vying for one spot.
Opener Cameron Bancroft could also play for the tourists in what would be his return to the Test squad following the end of a ban for a ball-tampering incident during a match against South Africa in March 2018.
Fellow batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner were also banned for their involvement in the controversy and all three may face England.
Smith and Warner experienced boos when they played in the World Cup in England during the summer and Langer expects Bancroft to get the same treatment.
“It would be a great story if he [Bancroft] comes back into the team,” said Langer.
“His development after what happened in Cape Town has been extraordinary.
“We know what the reception is going to be. There’s nothing we can do about it.
“We don’t know [how he will cope] but we’ll find out.
|Tour Championship final-round leaderboard|
|-18 R McIlroy (NI); -14 X Schauffele (US); -13 J Thomas (US), B Koepka (US); -9 P Casey (Eng); -8 A Scott (Aus); -7 T Finau (US); -6 C Reavie (US); -5 P Reed (US), K Kisner (US), H Matsuyama (Jpn)|
|Selected others:-4 B DeChambeau (US), J Rahm (Spa); -1 T Fleetwood (Eng); E R Fowler (US); +3 J Rose (Eng); +10 D Johnson (US)|
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy won the Tour Championship for a second time to secure the FedEx Cup title.
“Going up against the number one player in the world today, he got one over on me in Memphis and I wanted to sort of try to get some revenge today.
“It’s amazing how different things can be in a year.”
American Koepka had held a one-shot lead after a weather-delayed third round at East Lake Golf Club, during which six people were injured after two lightning strikes.
But he hit a double bogey on the seventh hole and carded three further bogeys on the back nine to finish in a tie for third with compatriot Justin Thomas.
England’s Paul Casey finished fifth on nine under par, while compatriot Tommy Fleetwood finished tied 16th on one under.
McIlroy defies radical new format
McIlroy’s win was made more remarkable because he started the tournament on five under par, five shots behind Thomas, who led the FedEx Cup standings going in to the season-ending Tour Championship.
In a change to the rules for 2019, players entering the final event were awarded a starting score based on their FedEx Cup rank, which descended from -10 for the leader, down to level par for players ranked 26-30.
That meant McIlroy, who had concerns about the format, could have carded the lowest score of the week and still not won.
But birdie on the last two holes ensured he also took that record, with a 13-under total, which was the best in the field by three shots.
McIlroy, who won the FedEx Cup and Tour Championship titles in 2016, was tied for second with American Schauffele on 14 under going into the final round and started, as did Koepka, with five straight pars.
He made a birdie on the par-five sixth before taking advantage of Koepka’s double bogey on the seventh, holing another birdie from 20 feet.
Two further birdies followed on the 12th and 13th to go four strokes clear and despite two bogeys, he all but sealed his 17th PGA Tour win on the penultimate hole.
McIlroy, who missed the cut at his home Open Championship last month, added: “My goal today was to go and shoot the lowest score of the week. It’s been such a cool way to end what has been for me a great season.
“To win the FedEx Cup on multiple occasions is a pretty big deal. Any time you can do something which only Tiger Woods has done, you know you’re doing something right.
“Three wins, another FedEx Cup, a Players Championship, which I’ve never won before, this season is right up there with one of the best I’ve played. People will maybe look and say I haven’t won any majors this year, but I feel like I’ve played some of the best golf of my career so I will rate this 2019 season very highly.”