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#pounditTuesday, April 23, 2024

76ers say fans were not ejected over Hong Kong protests

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The Philadelphia 76ers denied that they ejected fans from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia for their support of Hong Kong.

The 76ers said the two fans, who were holding up “Free Hong Kong” signs, were ejected for being disruptive and getting into verbal confrontations with other fans, not for the content of their signs.

“At last evening’s game, following multiple complaints from guests and verbal confrontations with others in attendance, two individuals were warned by Wells Fargo Center staff about their continuing disruption of the fan experience,” the team said in a statement, via ESPN. “Ultimately, the decision was made by Wells Fargo Center personnel to remove the guests from the premises, which was accomplished without incident.”

The Wells Fargo Center said in its own statement that the fans were given three warnings before being ejected. The fan, Sam Wachs, said he and his wife had their pro-Hong Kong signs confiscated before being ejected after he shouted “Free Hong Kong!” in support of the pro-democracy protests ongoing there.

The preseason game took place against the Guangzhou Loong Lions, a Chinese team.

It’s the latest chapter in the NBA’s newest mess. The Chinese market and the money that comes from it are hugely important to the league, but it’s becoming more and more apparent that they’re not going to be able to tap into that market without censoring themselves to some degree about important political issues relating to China. Whether the Sixers are being honest here or not, it gives off the impression of another NBA entity more concerned with protecting its interests in China than allowing those associated with it to speak freely — the same contrast that got the NBA into trouble in the first place.

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