A disturbing trend has swept over the NBA in which fans — in America — have either been removed from games or had their signage confiscated, for showing or shouting support for the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.
As the NBA continues to try to make amends with communist China after Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for demonstrators in Hong Kong, several fans dissatisfied with the league’s appeasement of Beijing have taken their frustration to the games.
On Tuesday night, a couple was ejected from a 76ers game after holding signs and shouting “Free Hong Kong.” The 76ers were hosting a Chinese team, the Guangzhou Loong Lions.
On Wednesday night, as the Loong Lions were in the nation’s capitol to take on the Wizards, a group of fans had their “Free Hong Kong” sign confiscated by security.
— Jon Schweppe (@JonSchweppe) October 9, 2019
The NBA’s initial response to Morey’s tweet was apologetic, and drew strong bipartisan backlash as most saw the league as siding with the Chinese Communist Party over the free speech rights of an American citizen.
Next, the league attempted to do damage control by releasing another statement expounding the virtues of free speech.
“I think as a values-based organization that I want to make it clear … that Daryl Morey is supported in terms of his ability to exercise his freedom of expression,” he said. “What I also tried to suggest is that I understand there are consequences from his freedom of speech, and we will have to live with those consequences.”
The NBA has the first of a pair of preseason games expected to be played in China on Thursday. However, videos circulated on social media Wednesday, showed workers removing NBA signage at the Shanghai arena where the games are to be played.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn