Lakers Fan Responds to NBA China Controversy With Planned T-shirt Giveaway at Staples Center
If you haven't been following along with the NBA/China controversy, here's a quick summary: The Houston Rockets' general manager tweeted support for protestors in Hong Kong, and then quickly deleted the tweet and apologized. The NBA followed that up by releasing a statement of its "great respect for the history and culture of China" in an attempt to smooth over cracks in a very lucrative business relationship.
A lot of basketball fans are mad at Silver and the league for what appears to be bootlicking to save its financial partnerships with China (which have already begun falling apart amid the controversy), and silencing an American citizen's right to free speech to appease a government keen on silencing dissent.
One Lakers fan is fighting back by starting a GoFundMe campaign for T-shirts that say "Stand With Hong Kong," which he wants to hand out before the Lakers-Clippers game on Oct. 22.
Sun Lared, the campaign's founder, set an initial goal of $20,000 for the shirts. He's already hit $40,000 in donations.
"China is trying to censor the Houston Rockets because of Hong Kong," the campaign writes. "Wouldn't it be hilarious if on opening night in Staples Center the NBA fan base made a collective demonstration against censorship by wearing 'STAND WITH HONG KONG' T-shirts?"
We have hit the $20k target. There will be #StandWithHongKong T-Shirts at Staples on Oct 22, to make a stand for HK, supporting free speech, and against self-censorship. Thank you all. Get in touch if you're in LA and want to help out. https://t.co/zkUTHCtqpw pic.twitter.com/8laUaxWNXj
— Sun (@Sun_DMoreyFan) October 8, 2019
Lared's plan is as follows: Get people to wear the shirt inside the Staples Center after distributing them outside, and then looking to see if the game footage is censored by the league.
"China thinks it can divide and conquer, minimize and diminish brave voices for change, and continue business as usual by isolating the Rockets," Lared wrote. "China wants to leverage their soft power and market access to convince American businesses to practice self-censorship. If it's just China vs the Rockets, they may be right. But America, and the NBA, have power too. The American market for the NBA is still the most lucrative by far. What if the entire NBA community stood up for free expression, the right to dissent, and Hong Kong? Would China be willing to censor it all? And if it did, would it highlight absurdity of this hypersensitive behavior to their citizens?"
Since the campaign raised double its ask, it looks like that the T-shirts will see the light of day. Whether they actually see the light of the Staples Center is another, and whether they see the blue light of millions of TV screens is another entirely.
It will be a great indicator of the NBA's true standpoint whether fans are allowed to wear them in the stands, or whether they're allowed in with them at all.