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Shaq makes a powerful statement about free speech — and tosses a jab at LeBron James

"...one of our best values here in America is free speech."

Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images

Retired NBA superstar Shaquille O'Neal offered his opinion on the controversy over a manager's comments against China, and he appeared to slight LeBron James in his statement.

"We, as American people, do a lot of business in China. And they know and understand our values. And we understand their values," O'Neal said.

"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. If people don't understand that, that's something they have to deal with," he added.

O'Neal made an oblique reference to people who "don't know what they're talking about," which mirrored James' criticism against Houston Rockets' general manager Daryl Morey. James criticized Morey as not being "educated" about the situation in Hong Kong.

"It was unfortunate for both parties, and then you got people speaking when they don't know what they're talking about. But 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," O'Neal continued.

"But again, when it comes to business, sometimes you have to tiptoe around things. But again, they understand our values, and we understand our values here. We have the right to speak," he added.

"Especially with social media, " he concluded. "We can say whatever we want to say, when we want to say it."

James was roundly criticized for his comments, with many people pointing out that he has been very vocal about social justice issues in the United States. Hong Kong residents who protested against Chinese aggression burned his jersey in order to show their displeasure about his comments.

Here's the video of his comments:

Inside the NBA Guys Discuss the Recent China and NBA News | NBA on TNT www.youtube.com

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