UPDATED 10/9, 1:25 p.m. ET: The Sixers released an official statement regarding the two fans who were ejected from Tuesday's game for their pro-Hong Kong signs.
The team states that Wachs and his wife were removed by arena staff because they were being confrontational with other fans.
See original story below.
As tensions surrounding the NBA's relationship with China continue to mount, a Philadelphia couple were escorted out of a 76ers game for their "Free Hong Kong" signs, CBS Philly reports. The preseason game, which took place on Tuesday, was between the 76ers and the Chinese Basketball Association's Guangzhou Loong Lions. Sam Wachs and his wife expressed their support for Hong Kong's autonomy from mainland China during the game, and Wachs said it got them kicked out after their sign was confiscated by security.
The moment when they were asked to leave was caught on video, as Wachs can be heard yelling "Free Hong Kong" as he left. Earlier this week, NBA commissioner Adam Silver expressed his desire to mend the league's relationship with China, but he also said the NBA "will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues."
Prior to the 76ers and Guangzhou Loong Lions game, the 76ers Vice President of Communications, Dave Sholler, released a statement in which he subtly brushed over the looming controversy. "We played in China last year and it was an incredible experience for our team and our organization," he wrote. "We love our fans there, the passion, the intensity they have for our sport. And I think, most importantly, the game of basketball possesses an incredible power to bring people together."
The Chinese Basketball Association officially ended its cooperation with the Houston Rockets after GM Daryl Morey expressed his support for Hong Kong in a since-deleted tweet. "Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong," he wrote. The comment was met with criticism from Chinese basketball fans and critics of the ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.