While playing in China, American basketball player Sonny Weems was subjected to racial abuse from fans. Fans can be heard repeatedly yelling the “N” word and “get out of China” at 35-year-old Weems, who plays for the Guangdong Southern Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association.
Last Thursday’s game between the Southern Tigers and the Liaoning Flying Leopards ended in an incident. During the game, Weems and Chinese player Han Dejun got into a fight, which resulted in both players being ejected. In the clip, Weems and the rest of the team are seen exiting the team bus when a congregation of fans could be heard yelling racist slurs. Weems appears to be oblivious to the audience.
The CBA stated in a statement on Friday that it has a “zero-tolerance attitude toward any discriminatory words or deeds,” and in an open letter to fans, it asked them not to participate in “uncivilized behavior” or “vulgar words.”
“Whether on or off the field, fans should watch the game in a civilized manner, respect each other, do not do anything that damages the reputation of the team,” reads the letter.
Both teams condemned the fans’ behavior, with the Flying Leopards saying the words seriously harmed the Guangdong team, the league’s and fans’ image. “Respect for the opponent is a basic quality that every player should have, and it is also a basic requirement for a qualified fan,” reads the team’s statement.
Taiwanese-American basketball player Jeremy Lin expressed his support for Weems, writing on his Weibo page: “The abuse Weems received really was disrespectful, that word carried so much hurt, unfairness and hatred that I couldn’t put into words.
Fans also left messages of support on Weems’ Weibo profile. “Peace and Love. We will always be behind you,” said one, while another wrote: “I’m sorry. Are you alright now? We always support you and stay here with you.
“Weems was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in the 2008 draught and went on to play in the NBA for several seasons during his lengthy career. He joined the Southern Tigers in 2018 and has helped them win three consecutive championships.
The racist incident occurs three weeks before China is set to host the Winter Olympics in Beijing.