On Oct. 8, Sixers fan Sam Wachs was ejected from an exhibition game between the 76ers and the Guangzhou Loong Lions for holding a sign that said, “Free Hong Kong” and chanting the phrase. The Sixers released a statement stating that Wachs was removed for “disruption of the fan experience” after “multiple complaints from guests and verbal confrontations with others in attendance.”
Notwithstanding the (unfair) reputation of Philadelphia sports fandom, fan ejections from sporting events occur regularly and generally do not make national — or international — news. But Wachs’ ejection came just four days after Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey launched a global controversy by tweeting his support for the Hong Kong protesters.
A simple tweet has caused a number of Chinese companies to sever their relationships with the National Basketball Association (NBA). And the NBA has botched its response by showing deference to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) talking points and its imagined history. CNN reporter Christina Macfarlane was stopped when asking Rockets players about the controversy. The NBA later apologized for this incident.