Sam Wachs and his wife were ejected from the Wells Fargo Center during a preseason exhibition match between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Guangzhou Loong Lions, a basketball team from mainland China. Why were they ejected? Because they brought signs to the game that read “Free Hong Kong” and yelled out “Free Hong Kong!” during the game.
According to 6abc News in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Wachs told news media…
“There’s no foul language, no politics. I asked why not. They said, ‘Don’t give me a hard time. I think it’s shameful, harsh reaction.”
They confiscated the signs from Wachs and his wife, and then proceeded to escort them out of the arena. You can briefly hear them censuring the couple during the footage shared with journalist Christie Ileto, who tweeted out the phone footage of the couple being led out of the arena by staff.
— Christie Ileto (@Christie_Ileto) October 9, 2019
According to CBS Philadelphia , Wachs had lived in Hong Kong for two years but now resides in Philadelphia. The article notes that they were seated in section 124, behind the Guangzhou Loong Lions bench when they held up the signs and shouted “Free Hong Kong!” during the second quarter of the game.
CBS Philadelphia reached out to the Sixers for comment but didn’t receive a response as of the publishing of the article. They did, however, write…
“According to the Wells Fargo Center’s website, ‘signs must be in good taste and appropriate for the event.’ The site also notes the ‘policy is subject to change based on the Wells Fargo Center management’s discretion and without notice.’
“The NBA’s policy prohibits ‘obscene or indecent messages on signs or clothing,’ but does not mention political statements.”
This all comes to a head following Houston Rocket’s general manager, Daryl Morey, making a tweet that featured an image that read “Fight For Freedom, Stand With Hong Kong”.
Morey quickly deleted the tweet after receiving backlash from the PRC, and all preseason NBA games were suspended from airing in mainland China due to Morey’s tweet.
The Ringer reports that Morey’s employment with the Houston Rockets is currently up in the air and he could be replaced for costing the league a lot of money, given that they’ve recently sign a $1.5 billion streaming deal with China.
The PR rep for the Sixers issued a statement before the game to assuage the controversy surrounding the censorship being handed down by the PRC, stating…
“We played in China last year and it was an incredible experience for our team and our organization. We love our fans there, the passion, the intensity they have for our sport. And I think, most importantly, the game of basketball possesses an incredible power to bring people together,”
South Park ridiculed the NBA for taking Communist money and giving up their freedoms, and was promptly banned in mainland China for taking shots at the country’s censorious nature.
Video game publisher and developer Blizzard Entertainment was reproached by gamers and other developers for recently abrogating a commentary team and suspending a player while rescinding all his earnings for supporting the Hong Kong protests.
This is becoming a growing trend where China’s censorship is beginning to encroach on America’s fast-eroding principles on freedom of speech.
(Thanks for the news tip Ebicentre)