Hundreds of activists supporting the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong filled the stands at a Brooklyn Nets game
- Pro-democracy protesters filled the stands at a preseason game between the Toronto Raptors and the Brooklyn Nets in Brooklyn, New York, Friday night. They wore shirts and masks and held signs in support of Hong Kong.
- The protests in Hong Kong have been escalating for nearly five months. However, the NBA was pulled into the controversy earlier this month, after the general manager of the Houston Rockets Daryl Morey tweeted out an image of support for protests in Hong Kong.
- The NBA responded to the since-deleted tweet, noting that it "deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable." However, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a follow-up statement that the league would not censor players or team owners.
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Pro-democracy protesters filled the stands at a preseason game between the Toronto Raptors and the Brooklyn Nets in Brooklyn, on Friday night, wearing shirts and holding signs in support of Hong Kong.
The protests in Hong Kong have been escalating for nearly five months. What began as protests over a controversial extradition bill that would have allowed the extradition of Hong Kongers to mainland China, have morphed into larger pro-democracy protests.However, the NBA was pulled into the controversy earlier this month, after the general manager of the Houston Rockets Daryl Morey tweeted out an image of support for protests in Hong Kong.
The NBA responded to the since-deleted tweet, noting that it "deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable."
"While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the league supports individuals educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them," the NBA statement read.
The Nets majority owner Joe Tsai, a Taiwanese-born billionaire, wrote an open letter following the dustup, calling out Morey and referring to the protesters in Hong Kong as a "separatist movement."
Republican and Democratic lawmakers condemned the NBA's response, namely Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who characterized the statement as the NBA "shamefully retreating.""As a lifelong @HoustonRockets fan, I was proud to see @dmorey call out the Chinese Communist Party's repressive treatment of protesters in Hong Kong," Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas wrote on Twitter.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a follow-up statement that the league would not censor players or team owners, acknowledging the "consequences from freedom of speech; we will have to live with those consequences," he said.
"For those who question our motivation, this is about far more than growing our business," he said.
However, fans then began to appear at NBA games with songs reading "Free Hong Kong" and shirts voicing support for the protests, only to be ejected soon after entry. Two fans were asked to leave the arena for expressing support for the Hong Kong protests at the Philadelphia 76ers game against the Guangzhou Loong-Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association.
For Friday's Nets verses Raptors game, producer Andrew Duncan bought tickets to the game for hundreds of activists protesting against the NBA, according to journalist Yashar Ali.
Protesters signs called out Tsai and Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.
James has faced a barrage of criticism after he commented on Morey's tweet.Read more: 'South Park' mocked LeBron James over his comments about China
"We all talk about this freedom of speech," James said earlier this week. "Yes, we all do have freedom of speech, but at times, there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you're not thinking about others, and you're only thinking about yourself. I don't want to get in a word sentence feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn't educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke."
James followed up that initial comment with a series of tweets: "Let me clear up the confusion," James tweeted. "I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of the tweet. I'm not discussing the substance. Others can talk about that."
"My team and this league just went through a difficult week," James said. "I think people need to understand what a tweet or statement can do to others. And I believe nobody stopped and considered what would happen. Could have waited a week to send it."
Following that comment, some Hong Kong protesters began burning James' jersey.