A Philadelphia 76ers fan says he was ejected from the Wells Fargo Center after holding up signs supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong during the NBA team's exhibition game Tuesday night against the Guangzhou Loong-Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association.
The signs Sam Wachs and his wife held up read "Free Hong Kong" and "Free HK." Wachs also shouted "Free Hong Kong" before security ejected the couple, he said.
Afterward, Wachs complained on Twitter that he got thrown out before Sixers player Ben Simmons sank the first three-pointer of his career during the team's 144-86 victory over the Loong-Lions.
The incident came hours after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sought to smooth over a brewing dispute with China sparked by a tweet Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey posted and then deleted supporting the Hong Kong protesters. Basketball is very popular in China, and the NBA has a $1.5 billion deal with a Chinese streaming company to broadcast its games.
The Sixers did not immediately respond to requests for comments about the eviction of Wachs and his wife.
Before the game, the Sixers sought to distance themselves from the Morey controversy.
6ABC reporter Christie Ileto tweeted a shaky cell phone video purportedly showing Wachs and his wife being evicted.
The Wells Fargo Center policy for signs requires that signs be no larger than 14 inches by 14 inches, not attached to a stick or a pole, and "be in good taste, and appropriate for the event."
"This policy is subject to change based on The Wells Fargo Center management's discretion and without notice," its says.
"There's no foul language, no politics. I asked, 'Why not?' " Wachs, who could not immediately be reached for comment, told 6ABC of his eviction. "They said, 'Don't give me a hard time.' "