Sixers Fans With 'Free Hong Kong' Signs Ejected For Disrupting Fan Experience

Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey discusses the direction of the team with the media during a basketball news conference Tuesday

Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey discusses the direction of the team with the media during a basketball news conference Tuesday

"We believe that any speech that challenges national sovereignty and social stability is not within the scope of freedom of speech", said the statement by China's CCTV.

The NBA said that it was not its decision to call off Wednesday's NBA Cares event with the Lakers, which was supposed to benefit the Special Olympics.

"F-- the Chinese Government! characters "Towlie" and "Randy" shout, after Towlie admonishes Randy for selling marijuana to China and tells him about the country's human rights atrocities". You don't see much political sloganeering in the stands at American spectator sports, partly because most fans leave that behind when they're in game mode but partly because the teams recognize it's bad for business.

On Monday, Chinese censors erased, deleted and purged every clip, episode and online discussion of the show from the country's streaming services and social media outposts.

Global controversy erupted when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted out support of anti-government protestors in Hong Kong, the former British colony now ruled by the Chinese. The NBA is now caught in a hard situation - trying to balance its business interests in China with supporting values of free expression.

The statement led to even more backlash from China, with sponsorships being pulled, and the broadcast and hosting of National Basketball Association games now in serious perpetual doubt.

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Luckin Coffee, the Shanghai-based beverage chain, said Tuesday that it would "suspend all cooperation", while smartphone maker Vivo said it condemned "the false remarks" made by Morey "as well as NBA's attitude indicating that it's indulging such behavior".

Whether games scheduled to be played in China will now take place is unclear. "He may have to say, 'I understand that your government, your political system, your culture, your ideologies are different than ours and we shouldn't push our beliefs on you'".

He tweeted about the ordeal - which comes amid rising tensions between the USA and China in wake of Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's pro-Hong Kong tweet.

"Maybe the NBA could grow a spine right now", said Payne, as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver prepares to travel to Shanghai.

The NBA's reaction? The league initially looked like it was throwing Morey under the bus, saying it was "regrettable" that the tweet had "offended" Chinese officials and hoop fans. "It is not the role of the adjudicate those differences", Silver said in a statement. "However, the N.B.A. will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues".

Yet Chinese authorities seem to fear that people will hear about Morey's support for the Hong Kong demonstrators anyway. Banning and taking prize money from the competitor in this way is about as stupid as it gets. For another, the precedent has now been etched into stone and you can bank that the Chinese government, and others, will see just how far they can slam open this door that Blizzard chose to crack.

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