Last night’s Sixers/Guangzhou exhibition game was played under the shadow of rising tensions between the NBA and Chinese government, a rift originating from a Daryl Morey tweet expressing support for the democratic movement in Hong Kong.
The ensuing fallout is affecting business deals in China, where NBA and G League exhibition games have since been canceled. And last night’s matchup at the Wells Fargo Center seemed rather straightforward and innocuous, before this happened:
Tonight at 11: Two fans got kicked out of the @sixers game during the preseason match against the Lions from China. The Philly couple was holding ‘Free Hong Kong’ signs and then the man started yelling ‘Free Hong Kong’ @WellsFargoCtr. Hear from him tonight @NBCPhiladelphia
— Denise Nakano (@DeniseNakanoTV) October 9, 2019
Here are a couple of tweets from one of the fans in question:
— Sam Wachs (@gogowachs) October 9, 2019
I didn’t see these two last night, but they were apparently behind the visiting bench, right around section 123 and 124.
Here’s some video footage via 6 ABC’s Christie Ileto, which shows the pair being escorted from the arena:
— Christie Ileto (@Christie_Ileto) October 9, 2019
Hard to see much there. Looks like two Wells Fargo ushers and then a suited security guy. The fans are about five rows behind the Guangzhou bench, if their players or coaches turned around, they could easily see those signs. You could also hear anything said (yelled) from that distance, because the arena was half full last night and rather quiet.
Here’s part of the write-up from the Action News website:
Sam Wachs and his wife had their signs confiscated.
“There’s no foul language, no politics. I asked why not. They said, ‘Don’t give me a hard time,” Wachs said in an interview with Action News.
Wachs admitted he then stood up and started yelling “Free Hong Kong” before being escorted out.
“I think it’s shameful, harsh reaction,” Wachs added.
Wachs told NBC10 he and his wife were holding up “Free Hong Kong” and “Free HK” signs in reference to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. Wachs said he lived in Hong Kong for two years and supports the protesters’ movement.
“We were just sitting in our seats near the Chinese bench,” Wachs said.
As they were sitting, Wachs said security confiscated their signs. He then said they were kicked out of the game during the second quarter by security after they yelled, “Free Hong Kong.”
“We were saying, ‘Free Hong Kong,’’ Wachs told NBC10. “What’s wrong with that?”
Nothing yet from the Sixers in terms of a statement, but we’ll share that when/if they send it over. I think the interesting question is who made the call to eject these fans. It’s worth noting that the Sixers are tenants in the building and do not handle arena security.