World

Chinese fans wave national flags during NBA pre-season game

SHANGHAI After nearly a week of uncertainty as the National Basketball Association (NBA) and China engaged in a tense stand-off, a pre-season game between the LeBron James-led Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets went ahead as planned yesterday.

But it was played under tightly controlled conditions as stipulated by Beijing authorities. Roads near the stadium were blocked off and those attending the exhibition game had to go through two rounds of security checks.

Several street vendors were selling Chinese national flags outside the arena and some people had called online on those going to the game to carry flags in a show of force, Reuters reported.

Hundreds of Chinese basketball fans waved national flags in the arena.

Tickets sold for as high as 18,888 yuan (S$3,651).

The now-deleted tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey supporting anti-government protests in Chinese-ruled Hong Kong sparked a furore in China, with a fan event cancelled and Chinese partners cutting ties with the NBA.

Some people protested outside the stadium against Mr Morey and NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who has spoken out in support of Mr Morey.

The NBA said in an e-mail yesterday that players and personnel would not be made available to the media.

WORLD