Shaquille O'Neal shares his opinion on China, NBA controversy
Basketball icon and former LSU star, Shaquille O'Neal shared his opinion on the spat between the National Basketball Association (NBA) and China, siding with Houston Rockets General Manager, Daryl Morey and his right to support pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
According to CNN, O'Neal said, "As Amerian 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 here in America is free speech. We're allowed to say what we want to say, and we're allowed to speak up about injustices, and that's just how it goes. And if people don't understand that, that's something they have to deal with."
Morey found himself embroiled in controversy when he posted an image on Twitter that read, "Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong," earlier this month.
The league's Chinese partners responded by breaking ties with the NBA,
state broadcaster CCTV halted all broadcasts of preseason matches, and the Chinese government said the NBA needed to show "mutual respect."
Though Morey apologized and deleted his tweet, the dispute continues.
For more than four months, Hong Kong has been flooded with increasingly violent pro-democracy demonstrations and rising anti-China sentiment among the protesters.
O'Neal's comments on the issue carry weight considering his popularity in China.
While playing for the Miami Heat in 2006, O'Neal signed with a well-known Chinese sportswear brand which released a 'Shaq Dunkman' line and shortly afterward, a towering 50 foot statue of the star was built in one of Beijing's city parks.