The controversy between the NBA and China was brought to light again on Tuesday night when a young child was seen holding a 'Stand with Hong Kong' shirt on the dance cam.
During Tuesday night's game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, a child baited a cameraman by holding a Clippers t-shirt, but as soon as the camera panned to him, he dropped the Clippers shirt and held up a shirt in support of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
the best clip to start the NBA season is this kid baiting the broadcast into flashing a "Fight for freedom stand with Hong Kong" sign on TV and then the cameraman pans away pic.twitter.com/B30ubY63CX— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) October 23, 2019
The controversy between the NBA and China began when Houston Rockets' general manager Daryl Morey tweeted, "Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong." Although the tweet was quickly deleted and Morey issued an apology shortly after, it caught the attention of people across the globe.
Following the tweet, many Chinese companies cut their business ties with the league. Los Angeles Lakers' star Lebron James was also pulled into the controversy for calling Morey "misinformed" regarding his tweet.
James took to Twitter afterwards to clear up any confusion about his statement, but he suffered severe backlash across social media.
My team and this league just went through a difficult week. I think people need to understand what a tweet or statement can do to others. And I believe nobody stopped and considered what would happen. Could have waited a week to send it.— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 15, 2019
In-game support of Hong Kong was something that the NBA feared since the issue began. During the preseason, a couple was removed from the Philadelphia 76ers arena for holding signs that read "Free Hong Kong" and "Free HK." Fans also handed out "Free Hong Kong" t-shirts prior to a Washington Wizards preseason game. During these games, both teams were hosting the Guangzhou Long-Lions, a team from the Chinese Basketball Association.
Protestors also attended an opening night game between the Toronto Raptors and the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Raptors organization handed out t-shirts showcasing replica championship rings, but fans took matters into their own hands and handed out black shirts with "The North Stand With Hong Kong" written across the front. Fans used the Raptors slogan "The North" to show their support of the protests. According to Reuters, one fan stated that a group of Toronto fans raised "close to $34,000 through a GoFundMe page to print 7,000 t-shirts."
Protests in support of Hong Kong were apparent once again during the game between the Lakers and Clippers. The dance cam at NBA games is usually a time for fans to showcase their dance moves in hopes to be featured on the stadium jumbotron or the TV broadcast. The cameraman quickly panned away from the child holding up the "Fight for freedom stand with Hong Kong" t-shirt, but it showed another example of in-game protests by fans.
The NBA Fan Code of Conduct policy states that "Obscene or indecent messages on signs or clothing will not be permitted" but does not include anything regarding political statements.
The NBA also enacted a new zero-tolerance policy for fans on Monday, but it is focused on abusive or malicious interactions between fans and players.