LeBron James may be done talking about the NBA-China controversy, but Toronto Raptors fans apparently have a lot more to say.
A group of fans in Canada have raised $34,000 in an effort to distribute up to 7,000 pro-Hong Kong jerseys at the defending champions home opener on October 22nd, according to Yahoo Sports Canada. The group used a GoFundMe account to raise the money, and have already exceeded what they hoped to raise.
— Hong Kong World City Ὑ🏻😷☔️ (@HKWORLDCITY) October 14, 2019
“As you may know by now, China is trying to censor the entire NBA because Houston Rockets’ General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted a ‘Fight for Freedom, Stand with Hong Kong’ photo to support Hong Kong,” the GoFundMe reads.
“It was a productive Tuesday after the long weekend, and we have finalized the quantity of T Shirt production! We are able to make 7,000 T shirts, which is 2,000 more than our original target! We will cover 35% instead of 25% of the audience! That’s 1/3 of the arena!”
The GoFundMe page was created by the Toronto HongKongers Action Group. The group’s organizer, Mimi Lee, sees the moment as an opportunity to open a new front against Chinese oppression
“Canada is actually another battleground to fight against China,” Lee wrote on the GoFundMe page.
“We may have a new government by the time this NBA match happens. Showing the Canadian government how much we stand with Hong Kong will definitely set a tone on the China policy for the new administration.”
The next question becomes the reaction of the Raptors and the NBA. The Raptors, are in no way involved in the giveaway. Most stadiums have a policy against political signage or messaging in their arenas. A fact which was driven home over a week ago, when fans in Washington, DC, and Philadelphia, either had their pro-Hong Kong signage confiscated, or were asked to leave the arena.
However, those were only a handful of demonstrators. If the Toronto HongKongers Action Group, is able to outfit one-third of the arena in pro-Hong Kong shirts, that would pose a much larger problem for stadium staff and security. Not to mention the PR disaster which would result from the footage of thousands of fans protesting for democracy, being forced out of an NBA arena.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn