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Even After Bowing to the CCP, LeBron James' New Space Jam Movie Still Hasn't Hit China's Theaters

AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo, File

Basketball legend Lebron James’ anticipated film ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ has not hit theaters in China despite the athlete’s history of bowing to the Chinese Communist Party in attempts to stay in the good graces of the regime's ruling class.

Space Jam: A New Legacy was released in the United States on July 16 as the follow-up to the 1996 film Space Jam. The sequel features James accompanied by Looney Tunes characters (except Pepe Le Pew, that is) that appeared in the film’s prequel. The film reportedly cost around $200 million to make. Political and sports commentator Clay Travis shared via Twitter that the film is bound to lose millions of dollars if it doesn’t release to China's 1.3 billion citizens. 

Travis’ tweets refer back to October 2019, when former Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey shared a now-deleted tweet supporting the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, prompting James to share his thoughts on the matter, ripping on freedom of speech and the financial ramifications of Morey’s tweet.

According to ESPN, in an interview before a preseason basketball game, James reportedly said "I don't want to get into a [verbal] feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn't educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke.” James continued, stating “so many people could have been harmed not only financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually. So just be careful what we tweet and say and we do, even though, yes, we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that, too.”

In the same interview, James noted that "social media is not always the proper way to go about things." The rhetoric didn’t stop there. James later tweeted, “I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of the tweet.” Travis later called James out for his stance, tweeting he chose to “shut up and dribble for Chairman Xi,” to get his film in theaters in China.

Perhaps James could take some of his own advice regarding social media use, as he took to Twitter months later to post what some considered inciting violence against an Ohio police officer who shot and killed 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant in the midst of an attempting stabbing attack. He shared a photo of the officer with the threatening caption: “YOU’RE NEXT,” with an hourglass. He later deleted the tweet, but not until half the internet had screenshotted it.

James’ views on China shouldn’t come as a shock, as he’s been affiliated with Nike since 2003, whose CEO John Donahoe reportedly stated last month “Nike is a brand that is of China and for China.” James signed a “lifetime” contract with Nike reportedly worth well over $1 billion in 2015.

While James is hardly the first athlete to utilize their platform for brand deals, perhaps it’d be best if politics remained “out of bounds.”

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