Protesters Hold Rally to Support Hong Kong Before Pelicans vs. Rockets Game

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorOctober 27, 2019

Fans hold signs about Hong Kong during the second half of an NBA basketball game between the Houston Rockets and the Milwaukee Bucks, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

Supporters of protesters in Hong Kong rallied before the New Orleans Pelicans-at-Houston Rockets game on Saturday, per Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.

"As Rockets fans filed into the arena for the team's game against the New Orleans Pelicans, the demonstrators gathered in the entrance plaza, wearing black T-shirts emblazoned with the words 'Fight For Freedom' on the front and 'China, Stop Bullying' on the back," Arnovitz wrote.

"They held American flags as well as signs expressing support for free expression and criticizing the Chinese government. Two attendees held a large gold banner that read, 'Hong Kong's fight is everyone's fight.'"

The Vietnamese Community of Houston and Vicinities and Texas for Hong Kong organized the 35-person rally, per Arnovitz.

Protests also occurred at the Rockets' home opener against the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, per Kristie Rieken of the Associated Press (h/t Time).

"A group of 30 fans at the Houston Rockets' season opener against Milwaukee held signs and wore shirts in support of anti-government protesters in Hong Kong on Thursday night," Rieken wrote.

"The majority of the group was from Houston's Vietnamese community, but it also included people from Hong Kong."

Mike Hixenbaugh of NBC Sports provided photos from the evening:

Mike Hixenbaugh @Mike_Hixenbaugh

The Hong Kong protests have come to Houston. Much respect to the young activist who doesn’t like basketball but who disguised himself in a James Harden beard. https://t.co/ku52fiskXb

On Oct. 4, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey posted a since-deleted tweet that read: "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong."

In response, Chinese broadcasters announced that they would stop airing and live-streaming Rockets games, per Jordan Valinsky of CNN Business. The Chinese Basketball Association, led by president and ex-Rocket great Yao Ming, also cut off its relationship with the Rockets.

A cycle of controversy has since ensued, with people supporting the Hong Kong protests denouncing the NBA for its initial reaction and all 11 Chinese corporations with previous ties to the NBA severing their relationships, per Valinsky.

Numerous players and coaches have also come under fire for their responses, including Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James.

The Rockets' next scheduled home game is Monday against the Oklahoma City Thunder at 8 p.m. ET.