Amid controversy over Saudi-financed LIV Golf poaching golfers from the PGA Tour, a former ESPN journalist criticized LeBron James and the NBA’s relationship with China.
In an interview on Michelle Beadle’s ”What Did I Miss?” podcast, while discussing Saudi Arabia using gold to try to boost its public image and hide its poor record of respecting human rights, journalist Bob Ley said:
”The LIV Golf thing has unleashed a fury of convenient and easy outrage, not that I disagree with it at all. … It’s real easy to be p****** off and angry about LIV Golf and Saudi [Arabia]. All I ask for is philosophical and ideological consistency. Apply it to China consistently, LeBron.
”There’s been other reporting. I mean, the Fainaru brothers at ESPN.com have shown some of the things with camps and knowledge of what the NBA’s involved with. China has as many issues as any other country, and is the outrage tempered by the popularity of the sport and the dollars at stake?”
Ley added that James, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, could have exposed what was going on in China when then-Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted a condemnation of China’s takeover of Hong Kong in 2019. Instead, James decided to attack Morey publicly and claim that Morey ”wasn’t educated on the situation.”
”LeBron, I think, has a responsibility, and an opportunity more importantly. And it’s easy for people to come to the conclusion that players, at a time when social voice and equity are very much a part of sports, more so than ever before, here’s an opportunity to make a stand. If you are a billionaire, you can afford to perhaps make a stand and at least become educated.
”Freedom of speech in China is a very different thing. Freedom of access to the internet is a very different thing. Is there an opposition party in China? Oh, no, not for the last 60 or 70 years. Are we comfortable dealing with a nation like that and putting it all on the table? Those are questions people need to answer,” Ley said.
”If you want to get into a froth about LIV Golf — and you have every right to — take a pause, take a deep breath, and look at China. Should this outrage and should this introspection extend to the NBA?”