76ers fan says he was kicked out of preseason game for supporting Hong Kong
The NBA has found itself scrambling to somehow repair its relationship with China in the wake of Daryl Morey publicly showing support for the protests in Hong Kong, and the league may be taking measures to avoid the controversy at home in addition to overseas.
A Philadelphia 76ers fan named Sam Wachs says he and his wife were kicked out of the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night for showing support for Hong Kong during the Sixers’ preseason game against the Guangzhou Loong-Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association. Wachs, who lived in Hong Kong for two years, says he and his wife were holding up signs that said “Free Hong Kong” and “Free HK.”
Arena security confiscated the signs, and Wachs says the couple was kicked out during the second quarter for yelling, “Free Hong Kong” after the signs were taken.
“We were saying, ‘Free Hong Kong,” Wachs told NBC10 in Philly. “You know, what’s wrong with that?”
Wachs says he and his wife were sitting near the Chinese bench, but he insists they were simply expressing support for the pro-democratic protests in Hong Kong. NBC10 reached out to the 76ers for an explanation, but the team did not provide any comment.
It’s unclear if Wells Fargo Arena security decided themselves that Wachs and his wife were violating the fan code of conduct or if the NBA has issued some sort of directive. Whatever the case, we know the situation between China and the league continues to get more complicated by the day.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has expressed regret that Morey’s tweets offended so many people in China, but he said the league will not apologize for respecting the Houston Rockets GM’s right to express himself freely. The biggest names in the NBA are typically not shy in expressing their opinions about political and social justice issues, though we have already heard some disappointing responses to the China situation.