Et tu, LeBron?

That is a puzzling stance for James to take. Had a player tweeted what Morey did, James surely wouldn’t have suggested any discipline—even if James himself were frustrated with being put in the middle of the resulting controversy. On Twitter, James tried to further explain his position, but given the seriousness of the situation in Hong Kong, I doubt many fans were receptive to him explaining how this created a challenging week for the players who were in China as everything unfolded. The Hong Kong protesters were definitely aware of James’s opinions. His comments so angered them that they burned his jersey—something American fans have done when angry at James, but for much different reasons.

Morey likely didn’t anticipate that his tweet would practically destroy his team’s relationship with China. He probably also couldn’t have foreseen how much his tweet would potentially sabotage players’ business interests in China. An unnamed Lakers player, sources told ESPN, lost out on a $1 million endorsement opportunity with a Chinese company because of Morey…

By painting Morey as the villain, though, James is giving the Chinese government a free pass for its heavy-handed, petty overreaction. After all, Morey’s show of support for the Hong Kong protesters was just one tweet; it was hardly Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” It looked as if the Chinese government just used the tweet to show the NBA who has the upper hand in their relationship.