Animated TV series South Park has taken a not-so-subtle swipe at LeBron James over his controversial comments around the NBA's China saga.
The Lakers star was widely slammed after criticising Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey for tweeting his support for Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters and consequently, his opposition to China.
Morey's tweet sparked a wave of backlash, with NBA players, coaches and even president Donald Trump weighing into the debate.
Now, the notoriously satirical creators of South Park - Trey Parker and Matt Stone - have also decided to get in on the fun with a veiled jab at Los Angeles star James.
In the latest episode of the crude animated series, Cartman, who is recovering from a heart attack, takes umbrage with a group of South Park Elementary students who are trying to remove meat from the cafeteria.
“Yes, we do all have freedom of speech,” Cartman yells.
“But at times, there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you’re not thinking about others and you’re only thinking about yourself!
“They’re trying to take people’s lunch,” Cartman complained to school counsellor, Mr. Mackey.
“They don’t realise it harms people financially, physically, emotionally and spiritually.”
If those lines sounds familiar it's because they probably are, with Lakers star James launching a similar rant against Morey for his now-infamous anti-China tweet.
During an interview Monday after a preseason game, James said about the matter: “I don’t want to get into a feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand.”
“Many people could have been harmed not only financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually,” James continued.
“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.”
Later that night, James tweeted: “Let me clear up the confusion. I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of the tweet. I’m not discussing the substance. Others can talk About that.”
He added: “My team and this league just went through a difficult week. I think people need to understand what a tweet or statement can do to others. And I believe nobody stopped and considered what would happen. Could have waited a week to send it.”
If there were any questions whether the South Park creators were referring to James in their latest episode, they were emphatically answered in a social media post about China, laced with sarcasm.
— South Park (@SouthPark) October 7, 2019
China feud leads to ‘substantial’ losses for NBA
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday the league has suffered "substantial" losses following its dispute with China.
"I don't know where we go from here," Silver said at Time magazine's Time 100 Health Summit in New York. "The financial consequences have been and may continue to be fairly dramatic."
Chinese firms suspended lucrative sponsorship and telecast deals with the NBA after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
"The losses have already been substantial," Silver said. "Our games are not back on the air in China as we speak, and we'll see what happens next."
Silver said Chinese government and business officials called for Morey to be fired for expressing his opinion.
"We were being asked to fire him by the Chinese government, by the parties we dealt with, government and business," Silver said. "We said there's no chance that's happening. There's no chance we'll even discipline him."
The NBA was criticised for early statements after the firestorm erupted that included the word "regrettable" and many saw as a nod to China.
"We did use the word regrettable initially but regrettable was modifying the fact that we had upset our Chinese fans," Silver said.
"We were saying we regretted upsetting our fans (but) also at the same time supporting Daryl Morey's right to express himself, right to tweet... Maybe I was trying too hard to be a diplomat.
"There was no regret directed to the government (but instead) to our fans, hundreds of millions of them in China."