While the NBA said it won’t censor players and coaches from speaking out freely, apparently they’re not extending that privilege to fans.
According to Philadelphia 76ers fan Sam Wachs, he and his wife were attending a pre-season game against the Guangzhou Loong-Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association at the Wells Fargo Center. Wachs had apparently brought along a sign that read “Free Hong Kong” with them.
According to NBC10, Wachs and his wife were sitting near the Chinese bench when he held up the sign.
Wachs then claims that security came and escorted the couple out after he shouted “Free Hong Kong.”
“We were saying, ‘Free Hong Kong,’’ Wachs told NBC10. “What’s wrong with that?”
This move is already going to make the tarnished reputation of the NBA look even worse. The controversy that inspired Wachs to bring that sign all started when the general manager of the Houston Rockets tweeted his support for the Hong Kong protesters.
China responded by killing the broadcasts of two NBA preseason games and giving a not-so-subtle hint to the NBA that anyone who speaks out against China should be punished in some way.
The NBA responded by saying that it would not censor its players or coaches in light of the fact that it would likely anger China even further.
However, many considered this a bare minimum response and a lukewarm approach to China’s demand for censorship. It would appear that in light of this man’s claim that he was removed from the game, the NBA was only paying lip service to the American people to keep them tuned in.
In truth, many have noted that the response to Chinese demands for censorship from the creators of South Park is the standard route to follow. Matt Stone and Trey Parker not only directly criticized China’s censorship and America’s capitulation to it, but verbally antagonized China with a fake apology after China had wiped any mention of South Park from its media.
It’s unlikely that the NBA would be as bold as Stone and Parker as there is a lot of money to be made thanks to Chinese markets. However, to the American people, this will be seen as weakness and capitulation to a foreign totalitarian government.
People are willing to tune out of major sports events if it upsets them politically. You can ask the NFL about that.