Pro-democracy protester aims to take ex-NBA players to Hong Kong

Several hundred pro-democracy protesters staged a demonstration at an NBA exhibition game last week, wearing black shirts that read “Stand With Hong Kong.” Film producer Andrew Duncan, who organized the protest, announced Wednesday on CBSN that his next plan is to fly a group of former NBA players to Hong Kong.

“I’m seeking ex-NBA players to take a trip,” Duncan said. “And the idea is to go to Tokyo, Japan, Taipei in Taiwan. And then try to go and take the group of players, on behalf of the NBA Player’s Association, on a fact-finding mission and fly into Hong Kong and see if we’re admitted, so we can go speak to Joshua [Wong] and the other democratic leaders in Hong Kong. And let’s get some basketball players to go and spread democracy.”

Duncan also accused the NBA of doing business with the Chinese government.

“The NBA isn’t doing business with the Chinese people, they are in business with the Chinese communist party,” Duncan told CBSN’s Reena Ninan. “They shouldn’t be doing business with people running concentration camps. It’s simply not right.”

The rift between China and the NBA began in early October when Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters. “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong,” the now-deleted tweet said.

In response, several Chinese businesses pulled their NBA sponsorships and China’s national broadcaster, CCTV, refused to air two NBA preseason games scheduled that week.

The league released a statement acknowledging the tweet may have “deeply offended” some fans, adding that Morey “does not represent the Rockets or the NBA.” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, however, defended Morey and refused to take any disciplinary action against him.

Duncan said that wasn’t enough. “We went to the game the other night, and we’re trying to get everyone to stand — ‘Stand With Hong Kong’ is our shirt. The NBA owners, and the board of governors, and the commissioner of the national basketball association … have all sat down.”

Duncan said he would tell Silver that “businesses have to adjust all the time. Also, he’s not running a business. He’s running an American institution. And they’re trustees of an American institution, which is the NBA. The NBA does well when it always hangs close with civil rights. It’s part of its DNA. Martin Luther King is part of its DNA.”

NBA fans raise signs referencing Tibet and Hong Kong during an exhibition game between the Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets on October 18, 2019.  Sarah Stier via AP

Activist Nathan Law, who also appeared on CBSN on Wednesday, participated in Friday’s protest. He said it’s important for Hong Kong’s citizens to know that they have international support.

“China has always been bullying countries and bullying Hong Kong,” Law said. “They have been wanting to reach their hands, not only in Hong Kong, but in the U.S. They are silencing players, managers and now we are here to say that we are not alone. We are in a global fight, and we are at the forefront, and we should join hands together to fight against the revival of a totalitarian regime.”

“The people of Hong Kong, they’re putting their lives at risk and facing rubber bullets and all the police brutality … and it’s important that we fight for our dignity and fight for our freedom,” Law added. “And most importantly, it is not only for ourselves. You can see that China, they’re silencing Morey and all other players. And we’re here to say that you’re facing the same difficulties — the U.S. mass public. You should be aware that freedom is at risk. And the fight in Hong Kong is actually helping us … to say that we are not going to kowtow to China. We are going to fight for our freedom, with all the costs that we can pay.”

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