Around 100 spectators wore black shirts that read “Stand with Hong Kong,” while holding signs and chanting pro-democracy slogans during the game. Another dozen fans demonstrated on behalf of the Tibetan freedom movement, though it was unclear if the two protests were related.
“We want to use our performance art to show our support for Hong Kong and the NBA,” one organizer, author Chen Pokong, 55, told the New York Post.
“It seems like NBA people cannot choose their words,” he added. “So if we don’t stop them, they not only will do bad things in China, they will do bad things in America.”
Silver said earlier in the week that Chinese officials urged the NBA to fire Morey over his since-deleted tweet in support of the protest movement in Hong Kong. The Chinese government denied making that request.
The CCTV commentary declared Silver had “defamed” China and had “problems in his character.”
“To please some American politicians, Silver has fabricated lies out of nothing and has sought to paint China as unforgiving,” it said.
After the game, Nets guard Kyrie Irving sympathized with players and other NBA personnel who want to speak out in support of the Hong Kong protesters.
“[People of color] here in America, we’re still fighting for everyday freedom, so when I think about Hong Kong and China, the people are in an uproar,” he said. “For us as Americans, as African Americans or American Indians, to comment on that, you’re connected nonetheless, especially when it impacts freedoms or world peace.”
The Nets and Lakers played games in China in the immediate aftermath of Morey’s tweet. The NBA canceled media availability with players from both teams in an attempt to manage the situation.
Nets owner Joseph Tsai criticized Morey’s tweet in a Facebook post and said the rupture between the NBA and Chinese fans “will take a long time to repair.” He called the Hong Kong protests a “separatist movement” that threatened to compromise “the territorial integrity of China and the country’s sovereignty over her homeland.”