TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As the NBA kicks off its highly anticipated opening night on Wednesday (Oct. 23), activists gathered outside arenas in L.A. and Toronto to hand out thousands of T-shirts displaying a pro-Hong Kong message.
Prior to the Lakers-Clippers match-up, approximately 13,000 black and yellow T-shirts, manufactured by a Taiwanese American nicknamed "Sun," were being handed out in front of Staples Center in downtown L.A. All of the shirts were printed with "Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong," the message posted by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey on his Twitter account that initiated a backlash from Chinese NBA fans.
Pro-Hong Kong message printed on the T-shirts. (Twitter photo)
Sun told CNA that he has family living in Taiwan and that the country plays a critical role in the Hong Kong social movement. "I hope people in Taiwan understand the value of freedom," he added.
Supporters of Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests were also spotted at the Raptors-Pelicans game in Toronto as they distributed black T-shirts reading "The North Stand with Hong Kong." Mimi Lee, the organizer of the Torontonian Hongkongers Action Group, told the press that the T-shirts are a form of peaceful protest against China's assault on free speech, reported Toronto Star.
According to BBC, NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal weighed in on Morey's pro-Hong Kong tweet during the opening night broadcast, saying the Rockets manager was right. "One of our best values here in America is free speech, and we are allowed to speak up about injustices," he said.