Duncan reportedly bought 300 tickets to the match. These seats were given to pro-democracy supporters who showed up wearing black shirts that read, "Stand With Hong Kong."
This is the latest move in a chain of events that started when Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted out his support for Hong Kong ahead of the NBA's preseason games in Shanghai. This led to several Chinese businesses pulling their sponsorships from the NBA, forcing commissioner Adam Silver to try to patch up the league's relationship with the country. Silver stated that he stood firm on NBA employees' right to freely express themselves by refusing China's demands to fire Morey.
Duncan's protest follows a similar demonstration during one of Philadelphia's preseason games. During an exhibition match between the Sixers and the Guangzhou Loong-Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association, Philadelphia fan Sam Wachs and his wife held up signs that said, "Free Hong Kong" and "Free HK." This prompted security at the Wells Fargo Center to remove them from the building in the second quarter. The Sixers responded by saying that Wachs and his wife were ejected for being confrontational with other fans.