NBA: Protestors at Brooklyn Nets game wear 'Stand With Hong Kong' shirts

With the regular season set to open Tuesday, the NBA's issue involving China isn't going away and Nets guard Kyrie Irving opened up on the ongoing problem.

Dozens of protestors at the Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn Nets game at Barclays Arena Friday night wore black T-shirts bearing the message, "Stand With Hong Kong."   -  (Getty Images)

What began with just a few pro-Hong Kong T-shirts and signs at arenas has morphed into a much larger social movement at NBA games.

Dozens of protestors at the Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn Nets game at Barclays Arena Friday night wore black T-shirts bearing the message, "Stand With Hong Kong." Many protestors also wore black masks. 

According to the New York Post, another nine fans seated near the Nets bench wore white T-shirts with the message, "Free Tibet," another sticky geopolitical point involving China.

READ| China state TV to suspend broadcast of NBA exhibition games

The Nets have been thrust right into the middle of the NBA's China drama ignited by Rockets GM Daryl Morey's Oct. 4 reading, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.” That since-deleted tweet sparked a backlash in China against the Rockets and NBA, which has billions of dollars of business interests in that nation. Amid all the controversy, the Nets and Los Angeles Lakers played a two-game exhibition series in China last week, placing players in an uncomfortable position.

Nets owner Joe Tsai, who was born in Taiwan but lives in Hong Kong, penned an open message on Facebook after Morey's tweet, saying that freedom of speech is an "inherent American value" but the Hong Kong anti-government protesters are a "third-rail issue" for mainland China.

With the regular season set to open Tuesday, this issue isn't going away. A group of Canadians raised more than $34,000 to produce up to 7,000 T-shirts supporting Hong Kong pro-democracy protestors. The shirts, reading, "The North Stand With Hong Kong," will be distributed outside the Raptors' home opener against the Pelicans Tuesday.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday that Chinese officials wanted Morey to be fired for his tweet, which Silver opposed. A Chinese official denied that claim.

- Nets' Irving addresses China situation, closed-door meeting with Adam Silver -

In the wake of the tweet posted by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey on Oct. 4 supporting the Hong Kong protestors, players across the NBA have been asked to give their take on the situation the league now finds itself in with China. On Friday, the Nets' Kyrie Irving was the latest to weigh in.

While speaking with reporters on Friday, Kyrie Irving was asked about China, specifically a closed-door meeting several players had with commissioner Adam Silver in Shanghai.   -  Getty Images

 

While speaking with reporters after Brooklyn's 123-107 loss to Toronto on Friday, Irving was asked about China, specifically a closed-door meeting he and several other players had with commissioner Adam Silver in Shanghai on Oct. 9.

"I don't know whose notes, or who is in there that you can't really depend on to keep a conversation like that in house," Irving said, (via ESPN). "Especially when it is about the NBA brand and the NBA players being impacted by it.

"I stand for four things, man. Inner peace, freedom, equality and world peace. So, if that is being conflicted inside of me, I am definitely going to have something to say, and I left it in that room."

Irving also said he and other players had conversations internally and decided as a group to "move forward and play the game."

"I understand that Hong Kong and China is dealing with their issues, respectively," Irving said. "But there is enough oppression and stuff going on in America for me not to be involved in the community issues here as well."

The 27-year-old Irving scored 19 points on 7-of-17 shooting in the Nets' final preseason game. Brooklyn opens the season at home on Wednesday against the Timberwolves at 7:30 p.m. ET.