But targeting James and accusing him, personally, of suborning a Communist dictatorship for his inartful comments is misplaced at best — an attempt to score cheap culture war points while letting the NBA itself off the hook, according to Dr. Harry Edwards, a renowned social justice activist and professor of sociology who has served as an adviser to Colin Kaepernick, Muhammad Ali and John Carlos and Tommie Smith.

The very same people trying to dunk on him now have often had little interest in hearing about social justice causes in America — particularly when James was involved — but, suddenly, they weirdly feel like his voice is not only valued, but required. What’s more, they seem to feel that his unwillingness to speak about the Hong Kong protesters voids all of his prior advocacy efforts, the school he built in Akron, the spotlight he’s brought on police brutality and state-sanctioned violence and his lobbying for greater gun control according to those critics. Edwards isn’t having it: “That’s not just disingenuous, it’s degenerate,” he said.

David West, who played 15 years in the NBA and currently serves as chief operating officer of the Historical Basketball League, agreed. “Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio? I immediately I put up a red flag when those two folks are involved in anything,” said West. “We’ve ‘ve dumbed down the conversation to ‘LeBron is pro-China and he won’t speak out on issues in Hong Kong.'”