Sam Wachs says he and his wife were ejected from Tuesday night’s exhibition game in Philadelphia for ‘Free Hong Kong’ and ‘Free HK’ signs and chants. The Philadelphia 76ers were playing the Guangzhou Loong-Lions, a Chinese team.
ABC reporter Christie Ileto recorded Wachs getting ejected from the game, although it’s hard to determine exactly what is happening in the video. Wachs later told ABC that Sixers security told him “There’s no foul language, no politics.”
The NBA is suddenly at the center of the months-long protests roiling Hong Kong. After Rockets GM Daryl Morey sent a tweet that said “Fight for Freedom. Stand for Hong Kong," the Rockets and NBA put out a series of statements that backpedaled from the since-deleted tweet.
But NBA commissioner Adam Silver mildly defended Morey’s freedom of speech earlier this week, which drew a sharp rebuke from the Chinese government. State broadcaster CCTV said “We’re strongly dissatisfied and oppose Adam Silver’s claim to support Morey’s right to freedom of expression. We believe that any remarks that challenge national sovereignty and social stability are not within the scope of freedom of speech.”
The Chinese government has canceled a series of NBA events and said that it won’t be airing the Lakers-Nets preseason games that are scheduled for Thursday.
This was the context that Wachs knew about heading into Tuesday’s game. After his ejection, he tweeted that “The protests in HK are not an attack on Chinese sovereignty,” which is the claim that the Chinese government and Nets owner Joe Tsai have tried to make.
Being a Sixers fan, though, Wachs focused on what truly mattered here.
“I got kicked out before the Ben Simmons three," he added. Simmons ended his personal years-long protest of shooting outside the paint with a three-pointer shortly before halftime.