James Freeman explains Shaq’s commitment to freedom at the WSJ, writing:
Retired National Basketball Association star Shaquille O’Neal has been doing business in China for years. But he’s not going to remain silent to please the world’s largest police state. On Tuesday night the hoops legend supported not just free speech in general but specifically speech defending the people of Hong Kong.
China’s dictatorship has been limiting Chinese broadcasts of NBA games ever since Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted—and then deleted—his support for Hong Kong freedom earlier this month. Hong Kongers have been demanding that the Chinese government allow basic liberties. They were disappointed when current NBA star LeBron James opined that Mr. Morey “wasn’t educated” on the subject.
But now a former NBA star is standing taller than ever. On the U.S. cable network TNT on Tuesday, Mr. O’Neal helped kick off the NBA season with a message that is bound to cost him some overseas revenue—and win him even more fans among those who cherish liberty. The Hall of Famer noted that China cannot force Americans to stop expressing our beliefs as a condition of commerce:
… 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 here in America is free speech. We’re allowed to say what we want to say and we are allowed to speak up about injustices and that’s just how it goes. And if people don’t understand that, that’s something that they have to deal with.
… Daryl Morey was right. Whenever you see something wrong going on anywhere in the world, you should have the right to say, ‘That’s not right.’ And that’s what he did… When it comes to business, sometimes you have to tiptoe around things, but again, they understand our values. … We have the right to speak, especially with social media. We’re going to say whatever we want to say, when we want to say it.
Read more here.