Entertainment

Shaq to China: ‘One of Our Best Values in America Is Free Speech’

The accomplished NBA legend and sports commentator fired back at the censoring of criticisms about human rights abuses

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Pro basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal on Tuesday blasted China while discussing the NBA’s controversial decision to bend the knee to China’s Communist Party by censoring criticisms around the league directed at China’s human rights abuses.

Shaq made his comments during TNT’s pre-game show on the opening night of the NBA season.

He also defended Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of the protesters in Hong Kong.

“As American people, we do a lot of business in China,” O’Neal said.

“And they know and understand our values and we understand their values. And one of our best values in America is free speech.”

“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.”

Morey’s tweet a few weeks ago was a graphic that read: “Fight For Freedom, Stand With Hong Kong.”

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“The Houston Rockets suddenly find themselves in the middle of a geopolitical controversy that could put their chief front-office executive’s job in jeopardy,” as The Ringer reported.

“After general manager Daryl Morey expressed support in a since-deleted tweet for pro-democracy efforts in Hong Kong, the Chinese government, the Chinese Basketball Association, and various Chinese businesses quickly denounced Morey and moved to sever ties with the Rockets,” The Ringer noted.

“As a consequence, league sources told The Ringer that Rockets ownership has debated Morey’s employment status and whether to replace him.”

Shaq backed Morey.

“Daryl Morey was right,” O’Neal said. “Whenever you see something going on wrong anywhere in the world, you should have the right to say that’s not right, and that’s what he did.”

“Here, we have the right to speak,” O’Neal continued.

Related: NBA Superstar LeBron James Skewered for Backing China

“And especially with social media, we’re going to say whatever we want to say, when we want to say it.”

Shaq is right. If America is supposed to be an example of liberty to the world, how can we ever be that if we don’t exercise our precious freedoms?

What does it say when Americans who are bestowed with free speech rights become afraid to use them because of the heavy hand of a communist nation?

The NBA will no doubt continue to do what it deems best for business — but that doesn’t necessarily mean those actions will be best for America and the world.

Good for Shaq for speaking out against tyranny. One hopes more will follow his example.

This piece originally appeared in The Political Insider and is used by permission.

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