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After backlash, LeBron James says he’s done talking about about NBA, China issue

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Both NBA and Chinese officials were hoping tensions around Rockets GM Daryl Morey’s Tweet about Hong Kong protesters would start to fade with the Lakers and Nets out of China, and the new NBA season set to begin in less than a week. There seemed to be a desire to just get back to business as usual.

Then on Monday, LeBron James re-ignited the controversy telling reporters he believed Morey was “misinformed” and “not educated” on the topic. Whatever he intended to stay, LeBron’s statement came off as putting money in front of free speech rights, even as LeBron tried to clarify and say he was just referring to Morey not being aware of the ramifications of his Tweet. It led to a backlash in the United States and LeBron’s jersey being burned in Hong Kong.

Tuesday LeBron spoke again on the topic — to say this would be the last time he discusses it. He wants to focus o basketball. Via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

Saying this would be the last time he addressed the turmoil between China and the NBA that resulted from Morey’s Oct. 4 tweet, James said he hopes tension between the parties will subside over time.

“I plan on being here and being a captain of this team and trying to figure out how we can win a championship,” James said when asked whether he plans to learn more about the anti-government protests in Hong Kong…

“I’d be cheating my teammates by continuing to harp on something that won’t benefit us. We’re trying to win a championship. That’s what we’re here for. We’re not politicians. It’s a huge political thing. But we are leaders and we can step up at times. I’m not saying at this particular time, but if you don’t feel like you should speak on things, you shouldn’t have to.”

Monday night, LeBron sounded like a man frustrated he and other players had been thrust into the middle of a complex geopolitical struggle between the world’s two biggest powers, sides that already engaged in a trade war. Which he has every right to be frustrated about, especially since he and other top stars make a chunk of money off shoe and other apparel sales in China. How LeBron expressed that frustration made things worse.

LeBron eventually joined Adam Silver and the rest of the NBA in hoping this controversy will go away — and it will. For a while. Eventually — maybe in a couple of weeks, maybe in a couple of years — it will flare up again on a different front. There will still be human rights violations in China, and economic tensions between there and the United States are not going away anytime soon. If the NBA is going to do business in China, it’s going to have to deal with some variation of this situation again.

Next time expect the NBA at least to be better prepared with a response.

Knicks rookie R.J. Barrett out at least a week with right ankle sprain

R.J. Barrett
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NEW YORK (AP) New York Knicks rookie R.J. Barrett will miss at least a week with a sprained right ankle.

Barrett was hurt during the Knicks’ loss to Phoenix on Thursday. On Friday, he had X-rays, which were negative.

The Knicks announced afterward that Barrett will be re-evaluated in a week.

The No. 3 pick in the draft from Duke is averaging 14.1 points.

Heat: Justise Winslow out at least two more weeks

Justise Winslow
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MIAMI (AP) — The Miami Heat say Justise Winslow will miss at least two more weeks while recovering from a back injury.

Winslow has played only once since Dec. 4 and is slated to be out for at least the remainder of January. The team originally called Winslow’s injury a back strain, then updated the diagnosis to a bone bruise.

Winslow played off the bench in Miami’s win at Indiana on Jan. 8. The team said the back problems reappeared after that game. He has not played since.

Friday’s game in Oklahoma City is Miami’s 41st of the season and the 30th that Winslow has missed. He’s averaging 11.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists for the Heat this season.

Kevin Huerter’s 3-pointer gives Hawks first win in San Antonio in his lifetime (video)

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The Hawks beat the Spurs in San Antonio on Feb. 15, 1997.

The next year, Kevin Huerter was born.

Atlanta’s next win in San Antonio came Friday, when Huerter hit the game-winning 3-pointer in a 121-120 win.

The Hawks’ losing streak in San Antonio spanned Tim Duncan’s entire lengthy career – and continued a few seasons beyond that. The only reprieve came during the lockout-shortened 1999 season, when Atlanta didn’t visit San Antonio. So, the skid lasted 21 games.

Buddy Hield on Kings getting booed at home: ‘That’s how Sacramento fans are’

Kings guard Buddy Hield
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Buddy Hield is quite familiar with frustration amid the Kings’ disappointing season.

Sacramento fans showed theirs Wednesday, booing the Kings during their home loss to the Mavericks.

Buddy Hield, via James Ham of NBC Sports California:

“Everybody is frustrated, it’s not even them, we’re trying to figure it out too,” Buddy Hield said following the loss. “But it’s the home team and we get booed…we don’t agree with it, but they’re going to voice their opinion.

“I understand their frustration, but like I said, I’m going to keep shooting the ball,” Hield continued. “When I make a three they like me, when I don’t, they hate you. That’s how Sacramento fans are, man, so you’ve got to embrace it.”

Hield seemingly isn’t looking to pick a fight with fans. He made a point to empathize with their frustration.

But I don’t think he’s being fair, either.

Kings fans are far more loyal than swinging between love and hate depending whether or not a shot falls. They’re fed up after 13 – going on 14 – straight seasons missing the playoffs. This year has been particularly discouraging, as Sacramento has backtracked from fun and fast to sad and slow. Losing to Luka Doncica particular grievance – only adds to the irritation.

The Kings’ problems have spanned multiple owners, executives, coaches and players. So, booing this group isn’t totally fair, either. But this is who’s in front of the fans.

If this Sacramento team plays hard and together, fans will embrace it – and stick with it through thinner times.