Let me explain how freedom of speech works for all those angry on either side of the NBA/Lebron/China busines
Freedom of association means The NBA has the freedom to associate and/or do business with whoever they wish, including China
Freedom of speech means that players and or executives on their own time have the right to associate with whom they wish, but freedom of speech and associations means the NBA has the right when players and executives are on the clock or using league resources to limit their speech in ways that they wish (unless a contract specifies otherwise)
Freedom of speech might be also means that potential fans and customers of the NBA can publicly approve or disapprove of said decisions either by public expression or with their pocketbooks.
So here is what that means:
the Rockets GM had every right to tweet out what he did.
The NBA had every right if they decided it was in their interest to object to him doing so and then change their position when the heat was on.
The players have every right to say something, say nothing or equivocate on the China issue.
HOWEVER free speech also means that the fans, the media and everyone else has the right to publicly object, act protest and ridicule the NBA for those choices and act accordingly.
The bottom line is freedom of speech means freedom to speak or not to speak, to associate with someone or some group or not, to do business with a person, a group or even a country or not and to object to these choices or not.
This freedom exists even if we don’t like what they’ve done.
I like that the GM of the Rockets spoke up for Hongkong, I don’t like the NBA’s initial reaction nor the players reactions on this. I don’t like or respect LeBron’s reaction (although I’m sure most of the rest of the league is happy for him to take the heat so they don’t). However it’s their right to act how they wish according to law and it’s my right to react accordingly.
That’s freedom of speech!