A hoarding showing Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James with his mouth covered by a Chinese national flag and the message “Silence is Violence” was refused by a US sign company, the New York Post reported. The proposed sign came from the Virginia-based National Legal and Policy Centre, a conservative NGO that acts as a watchdog on the ethics of public officials and apparently basketball players. James has come under scrutiny because of his public stance on Black Lives Matter and US social justice causes while staying silent on China’s human rights abuses. There has been an increased focus on China and the NBA’s relationship with it since Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted support for Hong Kong’s anti-government protests last October. James, who was in Shanghai for the NBA China Games against the Brooklyn Nets at the time, was one of the first players to speak after the furore that followed. “I don’t want to get into a word or sentence feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation,” he said, before clarifying his stance in a number of Twitter posts. James leading Lakers to NBA Finals is fitting amid the chaos He was criticised for his comments at the time and Hong Kong basketball fans were particularly angered and burnt James’ jerseys. Social media users shared memes of James that used Maoist imagery and pictured him on the 100 yuan note. It is an issue that has not gone away in the ensuing months with the NBA’s relationship with China becoming a political issue as politicians and pressure groups call on the league and commissioner Adam Silver to explain their stance. James too has been widely criticised for his silence on China by social media users and conservative commentators, often in regard to his activism and opposition to US President Donald Trump. The National Legal and Policy Center were set to spend “several hundred thousand dollars” on five billboards at the entrance to the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World in Bay Lake, Florida. However, the New York Post reported that the advertising company, Outfront Media, rejected the signs in an email seen by the US newspaper. “We cannot accept the ad as it is right now,” wrote the rep for Outfront. “The Chinese flag is OK, and the silence is violence is OK,” he said. They asked for the image of James to be removed but the NLPC refused. LeBron James’ China comments dragged up in Trump row “Some messages are too important to be suppressed,” Peter Flaherty, chairman of the NLPC, told the New York Post . “When it comes to human rights in China, silence is indeed violence. We should be able to call LeBron on his hypocrisy without this censorship.” James is chasing a fourth NBA championship with his Los Angeles Lakers team 2-0 up against the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.