Hong Kong protesters crash NBA opening night party

Hong Kong protesters crash NBA opening night party

Hong Kong protesters crash NBA opening night party (1)
A Hong Kong activist hands out T-shirts outside of the Toronto Raptors opening night of their NBA season on Oct 22, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo: Cole Burston/Getty Images/AFP)

TORONTO: Hong Kong protesters crashed the NBA's opening night party on Tuesday (Oct 22) handing out thousands of black t-shirts as the Toronto Raptors prepared to begin the defence of their championship title against the New Orleans Pelicans.

While the Raptors gifted the opening night crowd with t-shirts with a gold Raptor and replica championship rings, outside Scotiabank Arena the protesters were giving away black t-shirts with the message "The North Stand With Hong Kong" in bright yellow across the front.

Hong Kong protesters crash NBA opening night party
A Hong Kong activist argues with passers-by as he hands out T-shirts before the Toronto Raptors opening night of their NBA season at the Scotiabank Arena on Oct 22, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo: Cole Burston/Getty Images/AFP)

The North reference was a play on the Toronto Raptors slogan "We the North" that is used to market the team.

One volunteer, wearing a black surgical mask and who did not want to be named, said the Toronto group raised close to US$34,000 through a GoFundMe page to print 7,000 t-shirts.

READ: China denies telling NBA to fire exec over Hong Kong tweet

The NBA was plunged into controversy earlier this month after Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for Hong Kong's protesters in a since-deleted post that included an image captioned: "Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong."

Hong Kong protesters crash NBA opening night party (2)
A fan wearing a T-shirt supporting Hong Kong protesters stands in line for the LA Clippers season opening game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on Oct 22, 2019. (Photo: Harry How/Getty Images/AFP)

In the aftermath of Morey's tweet, China did not broadcast or stream two preseason games that were held in the country between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets while the NBA canceled many player appearances.

Some Chinese corporate partners of the NBA have also scrapped or suspended relations with the league.

MORE: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests

Follow us on Telegram for the latest on Hong Kong: https://cna.asia/telegram

Source: Reuters/ic

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