Shaquille O’Neal has shown us once again why he’s one of the greatest sports personalities we’ve ever seen. While NBA figureheads speak in code and tip-toe around the China-Hong Kong controversy, the outspoken sportscaster made it all seem very simple on Tuesday night.
During TNT’s NBA opening night pregame show, Shaq said:
“We’re allowed to say what we want to say and we’re allowed to speak up on injustices, and that’s just how it goes.”
He also said that Daryl Morey “was right” to support the pro-democracy rallies in Hong Kong. He said that whenever we see something that’s wrong going on in the world, we should speak up. “That’s what he did,” O’Neal said.
“As American people, we do a lot of business in China. And they know and understand our values and we understand their values. And one of our best values in America is free speech.”
Shaq makes it seem very simple because it is. If you listen to NBA commissioner Adam Silver or some of the NBA stars that have spoken on the subject, you’d think it was the most complicated issue the world has ever seen.
Adam Silver and the NBA initially released a statement that said Morey’s comments were “regrettable.” They said they were “extremely disappointed” by Morey’s “inappropriate” tweet. After facing massive backlash for the statement, Silver released a second statement to “be more clear.” The statement was a wordy, meandering novella that left people more confused than before. Basically, Silver said that it’s not the NBA’s place to judge these issues and we shouldn’t be upset with China or Morey
LeBron James said a bunch of words that equated roughly to anger at Daryl Morey for causing a ruckus. After his own backlash, James went on Twitter to “clear up the confusion” from his statements. There, he basically said that Daryl Morey didn’t need to cause a ruckus.
Morey’s own superstar player James Harden chimed in to say “we love China” and “we love everything about them there.” That’s not exactly the stance some were hoping for from the bearded counter-culture icon.
Shaq did extend an olive branch by saying that “sometimes you have to tiptoe around things” when it comes to business. The tip-toeing will likely continue until the two sides can reach some sort of resolution. However, it doesn’t look like that resolution will be coming any time soon.
Last week, Silver said that China asked him to fire Daryl Morey. Silver said there’s “no chance” that’s happening. China state broadcaster CCTV responded, saying that Silver had “crossed the bottom line” by defending Morey. CCTV continued,
“Silver has fabricated lies out of nothing and has sought to paint China as unforgiving.”
They continued to say that Silver and the NBA will “face retribution” sooner or later. Yikes. While it’s understandable that Silver must walk a tightrope if he wants to please both sides, at least with Shaq we have someone courageous enough to state the obvious.
This article was edited by Gerelyn Terzo.