Daryl Morey feels your pain, Sam Wachs.
Wachs said he and his wife were kicked out of a preseason NBA game in Philadelphia between the hometown 76ers and the Guangzhou Loong-Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association on Tuesday night because they were holding signs that read "Free Hong Kong" and "Free HK." Wachs said the signs were initially confiscated by security, but when they resorted to chanting "Free Hong Kong," they got the boot.
The ejection comes after Morey, the Houston Rockets' general manager, tweeted and deleted a post supporting Hong Kong's pro-democracy, anti-Beijing protest movement. China was rattled by the tweet and several businesses, including the Chinese Basketball Association, ended their relationship with the Rockets. Beijing suspended the broadcast of NBA preseason games, and the Los Angeles Lakers' NBA cares event in Shanghai scheduled for Wednesday was canceled. NBA commissioner Adam Silver defended Morey's right to free speech, but the league largely seems to be cowering from the situation. The NBA apologized to China's fan base, which is a huge driver of a revenue for the league. Do the math, as they say.
It's unclear if security was directed to throw Wachs and his wife out of the arena by the Sixers (who did not comment on the matter) or the league. Either way, the ejection seems to have a struck a nerve. Tim O'Donnell
Update: The 76ers said in a statement that the fans were thrown out of the arena for disruption, including "verbal confrontations" with others in attendance, not because of the signs. A source told ESPN that the team was not aware of the incident until after the ejection.