Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James has cemented himself as one of the most vocal athletes in sports. LeBron has continued to speak out as a positive public figure in the fight against racism, police brutality, and other civil rights issues affecting Americans. In Hong Kong however, protestors do not have the same view of King James.
In late 2019, the NBA ran into some issues with China after Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted in support for anti-China protestors in Hong Kong. The tweet sparked a long debate around China's civil rights issues in Hong Kong and the NBA's financial interest in the foreign country. In response to the backlash, LeBron didn't back the Hong Kong protestors, and they haven't forgotten.
Joshua Wong directly calls out James in his tweet, reminding the world about James' comments. Wong is one of the leading activists in the Hong Kong protests and authored a book about the movement called "Unfree Speech." He continued to go after LeBron with a series of photoshops and cartoons of him in soviet apparel.
Wong's criticism of LeBron is harsh, but not baseless. LeBron's brand and the NBA have vested interests in China, the country with the world's largest population, which explains why he or the league weren't outspoken on the matter, especially in terms of explicitly taking sides.
We are now almost a year into the Hong Kong protests, and LeBron is still facing strong backlash for what he said last October. Don't expect this to go away, either, given the colossal situation.