300 People Appear at NBA Nets vs. Raptors Game to Protest in Support of Hong Kong

At Friday night's NBA game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Toronto Raptors, 300 Chinese pro-democracy activists appeared in masks and shirts reading "Stand With Hong Kong."

Friday evening, journalist Yashar Ali shared a thread on Twitter, complete with pictures, of the protest.

"Producer and activist Andrew Duncan bought 300 tickets to tonight's Nets vs Raptors game and is hosting hundreds of Chinese pro-Democracy activists to protest the NBA. They're all wearing 'Stand With Hong Kong' t-shirts," Ali tweeted.

2. Hong Kong politician and activist Nathan Law at the Nets Vs Raptors game wearing the “Stand With Hong Kong” t-shirt pic.twitter.com/k7QTe6lmMi

— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) October 19, 2019

Nathan Law, a Hong Kong politician and activist, was also at the game, sporting one of the shirts. Law is the former chairman of pro-democracy political party, Demosisto, which he co-founded with activist Joshua Wong. Both Law and Wong were jailed last year on a six-to-eight month sentence for an illegal protest, but were released on bail after a few months.

5. More photos from the pro-democracy protest at the Nets game pic.twitter.com/uzkF9TbVvG

— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) October 19, 2019

Ali also shared a picture of protesters who brought their own outfits—namely Winnie-the-Pooh costumes. The beloved cartoon bear is banned in China, as Pooh has become a symbol to mock Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The protest at the Nets vs. Raptors game is a response to a recent controversy when, in an attempt to appease China, the NBA distanced itself from tweets by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey. In a now-deleted tweet, Morey shared an image reading "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong." In response, China said it would no longer sell Rockets merchandise or broadcast Rockets games.

nets vs raptors
The Brooklyn Nets and the Toronto Raptors playing against each other on April 3. Friday's game featured at least 300 pro-Hong Kong protesters. Matteo Marchi/Getty

Though many politicians, including Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York condemned the NBA's actions, the organization came under fire again shortly afterward for an incident where two fans were kicked out for holding"Free Hong Kong" signs.

Sam Wachs and his wife attended a preseason game in Philadelphia between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Guangzhou Loong-Lions. Their signs were confiscated by security, and the couple was kicked out of the arena for yelling "Free Hong Kong" during the second quarter.

It's not just physical sports organizations that have caused controversy for appearing to support China. Video game publisher Blizzard recently banned professional eSports player Ng "Blitzchung" Wai Chung for wearing a gas mask and goggles and saying "Liberate Hong Kong" in Chinese during a Hearthstone Grandmasters championship live stream.

Blizzard originally announced Blitzchung had been banned from the game for a year and would not be paid money he had won in the tournament, the company reduced his punishment to six months' banning. Blizzard also announced he would receive his winnings. However, the controversy didn't evaporate, as other live-streamers were punished for lending their support to Hong Kong protesters.