NBA fan ejected from game for supporting Hong Kong amid China controversy

Jack Rathborn
The Independent

An NBA fan was ejected from a Philadelphia 76ers pre-season game after shouting support for Hong Kong.

Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey sparked outrage with a since-deleted tweet showing support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.

The NBA has close connections with China, who are vitally important to their business, including streaming partner Tencent, who have a $1.5m billion, five-year contract with the league.

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Which forced NBA commissioner Adam Silver to announce that the league was “apologetic” that Chinese officials and fans were upset at Morey, but backed him and his right to freedom of expression.

But Sixers fan Sam Wachs and his wife attended the match against the Guangzhou Loong Lions, with their signs confiscated.

Ben Simmons shields the ball during the pre-season match (AP)
Ben Simmons shields the ball during the pre-season match (AP)

“There’s no foul language, no politics. I asked why not. They said, ‘Don’t give me a hard time,” Wachs told Action News.

Wachs admitted to standing up and shouting, “Free Hong Kong”, before being taken out.

He added: “I think it’s shameful, harsh reaction.”

China’s state broadcaster already cancelled plans to show two pre-season games in the country this week, with the CCTV hitting back at Silver’s initial defence of Morey.

“We’re strongly dissatisfied and oppose Adam Silver’s claim to support Morey’s right to freedom of expression,” CCTV said in a statement.

“We believe that any remarks that challenge national sovereignty and social stability are not within the scope of freedom of speech.”

Silver is set to travel to Shanghai on Wednesday to meet with officials and league business partners in order to make peace.

“I’m sympathetic to our interests here and our partners that are upset,” Silver said. “I don’t think it’s inconsistent on one hand to be sympathetic to them and at the same time stand by our principles.”

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