NBA Fan Raises $43K For "Stand With Hong Kong" T-Shirts As Protesters Torch LeBron Jerseys

A NBA fan has raised just under $43,000 in under 48 hours via GoFundMe for a run of "Stand with Hong Kong" t-shirts to hand out during the October 22 season opener at the Staples Center, according to LAist. The anonymous NBA fan who organized the fundraise, "Sun Lared," says he had to disable new donations because he blew past his initial target of $20,000 after over 1,500 donations poured in from all over the world. 

With shirts costing just under $3 each, the plan is to order 16,000-plus shirts, enough to outfit most spectators in the 20,000-person capacity arena.

The NBA fan, who's going by the pseudonym "Sun Lared," does not want his identity revealed to the public, he said, in order to protect his and his family's privacy and avoid the wrath of Chinese netizens. He said he's never engaged in activism before, but felt compelled to do something after seeing China crack down on the NBA this week. -LAist

"I think it's important for us to stand for free speech alongside the people of Hong Kong and to stand against foreign attempts at forcing us into self-censorship," said the organizer "Lared," a Taiwanese-American who lives in the Bay Area and is a Golden State Warriors fan. 

"Now, I got to fly out to L.A. for this Lakers-Clippers game," he said, adding "It's a little bit more than I signed up for."

He said he was pushed into action after seeing Chinese backlash to the tweet by the Rockets' general manager Daryl Morey. The executive had posted an image on Twitter last Friday that read, "Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong."

By Sunday, the Houston Rockets were on a blacklist in China. CCTV 5, the sports channel of China's top state broadcaster, and Tencent Sports said it would no longer show Rockets games. And the Chinese Basketball Association cut off ties with the Rockets.

Chinese ire expanded to include NBA leadership after the league's Commissioner Adam Silver issued a statement Tuesday that failed, in the view of Chinese authorities, to properly condemn Morey for his tweet.

Silver said in his statement that "the NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say." -LAist

LeBron gets dunked on

Amidst the Hong Kong controversy, Lakers star Lebron James has drawn the ire of pro-democracy protesters for saying that freedom of speech can lead to "a lot of negative," effectively supporting China's efforts to crack down on the protesters. 

In response, Hong Kong activists have been burning LeBron James jerseys according to The Guardian

"James was trying, you know, to take a side, on the China side, which is like ridiculous," said 36-year-old marketing director Aaron Lee. "He was being honest, financially. Financial is money. Simple as that. LeBron James stands for money. Period."

One NBA player has appeared to voice support for the protestors in Hong Kong. The Boston Celtics’ Enes Kanter, who is exiled from his native Turkey due to his opposition to the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, tweeted a list of issues he has faced due to his political beliefs. They include seeing his father imprisoned and having his passport revoked. At the end of the tweet he wrote “FREEDOM IS NOT FREE”. -The Guardian