On Tuesday night, a husband and wife holding “Free Hong Kong” signs at a preseason NBA game in Philadelphia were kicked out of the stadium.
The man, identified as Sam Wachs, and his wife had their pro-Hong Kong signs confiscated by NBA employees and were escorted out of the Wells Fargo Center arena after Mr. Wachs shouted “Free Hong Kong,” a statement in support of the ongoing pro-democracy demonstrations.
The 76ers were playing the Chinese squad Guangzhou Loong Lions.
these are the signs that led to two fans being kicked out of Tuesday’s 76ers vs. Guangzhou Loong Lions game *in Philadelphia* pic.twitter.com/xzQxhNyqIy
— David Paulk 波大卫 (@davidpaulk) October 9, 2019
“There’s no foul language, no politics.’ I asked ‘Why not?’ They said, ‘Don’t give me a hard time,'” Wachs explained to Action News.
“I think it’s shameful, harsh reaction,” the man added.
“The moment Sam Wachs and his wife are escorted out of the [Sixers] preseason game against a Chinese basketball team for yelling ‘Free Hong Kong,'” ABC 6 reporter Christie Ileto posted to Twitter.
— Christie Ileto (@Christie_Ileto) October 9, 2019
Earlier this week, the NBA took heat for cowering to Communist China after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey upset Chinese officials by expressing support for the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong.
“Fight For Freedom Stand With Hong Kong,” a graphic tweeted by Mr. Morey read.
According to The Ringer, the “Chinese Basketball Association, and various Chinese businesses quickly denounced Morey and moved to sever ties with the Rockets. As a consequence, league sources told The Ringer that Rockets ownership has debated Morey’s employment status and whether to replace him.”
“We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable,” NBA chief communications officer Mike Bass said in a statement released Sunday, reported The Daily Wire. “While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the league support individuals’ educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them. We have great respect for the history and culture of China and hope that sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together.”
Additionally, Morey deleted the tweet and offered an apology on social media.
“I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China. I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event,” he said. “I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives. I have always appreciated the significant support our Chinese fans and sponsors have provided and I would hope that those who are upset will know that offending or misunderstanding them was not my intention. My tweets are my own and in no way represent the Rockets or the NBA.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Tuesday that “he and the league are ‘apologetic’ that so many Chinese officials and fans were upset by Morey’s tweet and comments that followed — but insisted that Morey has the right to freedom of expression,” ABC 6 reported.
“Daryl Morey, as general manager of the Houston Rockets, enjoys that right as one of our employees,” said Silver. “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.”