What happened: James Harden, the mediocre Philadelphia 76ers guard who has demanded that he be traded three times in four years, went to China and attacked Daryl Morey, the NBA executive who caused a firestorm in 2019 by expressing support for the Hong Kong freedom protests.
What he said: “Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of,” Harden huffed at an Adidas promotional event in China on Monday. “Let me say that again: Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of.”
Crucial context: Morey is the 76ers president, and previously served as general manager of the Houston Rockets, where Harden also played before demanding a trade in 2020.
• Morey and the 76ers have rebuffed Harden’s most recent trade request, and are reportedly planning to keep Harden on the team for the upcoming season, setting up a showdown with the disgruntled and perennially underperforming guard.
• In 2019, Morey expressed support for the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong,” he wrote on Twitter. The NBA responded by issuing a groveling apology to the Chinese government.
• The Chinese language version of the NBA’s statement, which differed significantly from the English language version, denounced Morey’s “inappropriate” and “regrettable” comments for having “deeply offended” Chinese fans.
• Harden personally apologized to China for Morey’s pro-freedom tweet. “We apologize, we love China, we love playing there,” Harden said. “We appreciate [China] as a fanbase, and we love everything they’re about.”
Why it matters: China, a mediocre communist dictatorship, is America’s foremost global adversary.
• Less than a year after the NBA apologized for Morey’s tweet about Hong Kong, a bombshell report from ESPN revealed widespread abuse at league-sponsored training camps in Xinjiang, where the Chinese government detains millions of Uyghur Muslims in concentration camps.
• One former NBA employee compared the situation to “World War II Germany.”
Bottom line: James Harden has never won an NBA championship and never will.