Several people supporting the Hong Kong protests showed up to the NBA’s opening night Tuesday, as the league continues to respond to backlash over its handling of Chinese human rights violations.
During a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, a fan holding up a Clippers’ t-shirt was featured on the Jumbotron, and quickly flipped the shirt around to display the words “Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”
the best clip to start the NBA season is this kid baiting the broadcast into flashing a “Fight for freedom stand with Hong Kong” sign on TV and then the cameraman pans away pic.twitter.com/B30ubY63CX
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) October 23, 2019
Those same words got Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey in hot water with his team’s owner and certain league stars, including Lakers forward LeBron James. The league has significant business ties with China, and has refused to condemn the nation’s vast human rights abuses, which include strict censorship laws and the internment of Chinese Muslims. (RELATED: LeBron James Endorses ‘Fair Pay To Play’ California Bill)
In addition to the boy on the jumbotron, many fans in attendance wore “Stand with Hong Kong” t-shirts, and the Hong Kong flag could be seen flying during TNT’s “Inside The NBA” pre-game show.
NBA’s China and Hong Kong mess isn’t going away. Tons of people in these Free Hong Kong shirts are going to be inside Staples Center tonight. pic.twitter.com/CnLosvcgvy
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) October 23, 2019
The situation was a big topic of discussion on the show, with NBA Hall-of-Famer Shaquille O’Neal standing up for Morey and the Hong Kong protesters.
“Daryl Morey was right,” O’Neal said. “One of our best values here in America is free speech. We’re allowed to say what we want to say.”