Appearing at the Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live conference on Tuesday, Iger was asked about his stance on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, but subtly referenced the turmoil that the NBA has faced in recent weeks as a reason to refrain from offering an answer.
“What we learned in the last week -- we’ve learned how complicated this is,” Iger said. “The biggest learning from that is that caution is imperative. To take a position that could harm our company in some form would be a big mistake. I just don’t believe it’s something we should engage in in a public manner.”
Several prominent figures within the NBA had taken a similar stance, including some who typically have outspoken about politics, including Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and NBA superstar LeBron James.
"A lot of us don't know what to make of it, it's something I'm reading about... but I'm not going to comment," Kerr told reporters earlier this month. "What I’ve found is that it’s easy to speak on issues that I’m passionate about and that I feel like I’m well-versed on and I’ve found that it makes the most sense to stick to topics that fall in that category."
James knocked Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey for his tweet expressing solidarity with the Hong Kong protestors.
"Yes, we do have freedom of speech, but at times there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you are not thinking about others and only thinking about yourself," James said. "I believe [Morey] wasn't educated on the situation at hand and he spoke, and so many people could have been harmed not only financially but physically, emotionally, spiritually."
NBA veteran Shaquille O'Neal, however, defended Morey, insisting that he was "right" during the pre-game show on Tuesday.
"And, one of our best values here in America is free speech. We're allowed to say what we want to say and we are allowed to speak out on injustices and that's just how it goes," O'Neal told the panel. "If people don't understand that, that's something they have to deal with."
Shaq continued, "I just thought it was unfortunate for both parties, and then you have 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."