Two Sixers fans booted from game over 'Free Hong Kong' signs

Joanna Estrada
October 10, 2019

Marriott issued one. So did Delta.

In a letter Wednesday to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, eight lawmakers urged the league to "s$3 uspend NBA activities in China until government-controlled broadcasters and government-controlled commercial sponsors end their boycott of NBA activities and the selective treatment of the Houston Rockets".

NBA China lists 11 wholly-owned Chinese companies as its official partners in the country on its website, all of which now say they have halted business with the league, according to a review by CNN Business of company statements and social media posts.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) lost nearly all of its major Chinese sponsors in the country, the league's biggest market outside the United States, as the Chinese government flexes its economic muscle after a tweet backing Hong Kong's protesters triggered a backlash.

There's a lot at stake for the National Basketball Association.

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey's since-deleted tweet read, "Fight for Freedom".

There was heated blowback in America from that, and National Basketball Association commissioner Adam Silver quickly said that the league supported Morley's right to free expression, that it wasn't inconsistent with the NBA's money-making mission in China.

With the arena lights still dark and images of the Chinese flag aglow on the overhead scoreboard, a single protester in section 217 held a handwritten sign and shouted for freedom of speech and freedom for Hong Kong.

The question is, how long?

The NBA and Silver have faced criticism over the past week as the league tried to respond to Morey's tweet and its aftermath. With rumors swirling that Morey might be asked to step down, the Rockets vehemently denied them and appeared fully in support of their GM. "China needs a statement, and for him to still be in his job is remarkable. One man, one tweet". For now, those games are expected to be played.

Afterward, several NBA-related events in China were canceled, but two scheduled preseason games between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets were still on as of early Thursday. The controversy is also likely being watched closely by other United States companies that do business with China and have to balance that country's laws with USA ideals. "It's nearly like a Chinese lockout". This is not getting resolved right away. "I just saw it", he said.

In an attempt at damage control, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued another statement Tuesday saying that he won't censor players or team owners over China or other issues, arguing that the league is motivated by much more than money, and freedom of expression must be protected. "They can't survive if they have no ticketholders".

A human rights group called "Victims of Communism" handed out "Free Hong Kong" shirts outside the entrances of the stadium for the game.

The game's popularity in China has soared since.

Tech giant Apple, which has a huge presence in China, on Wednesday became the latest target.

Now those carefully cultivated and highly lucrative ties have been thrown into jeopardy.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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