A video captured fans shouting racial slurs at Sonny Weems, a 35-year-old former NBA player who now plays for the Guangdong Southern Tigers.
In a clip that has since gone viral, Weems can be seen getting off the team bus with fans shouting the N-word and other vulgarities. The incident happened last Thursday following a match between the Southern Tigers and the Liaoning Flying Leopards. During the match, Weems and Chinese player Han Dejun got into an altercation which got them both kicked out of the match.
The Chinese Basketball Association released an official statement following the incident, saying the league has a “zero tolerance attitude towards any discriminatory words or acts”, while urging fans not to take any “uncivilized behavior” and “vulgar words”.
“Whether on or off the pitch, the fans should watch the game in a civilized manner, respect each other, do nothing to harm the reputation of the team,” the letter read. “Respect for the opponent is a basic quality that every player should have, and it is also a basic requirement for a qualified fan.”
Jeremy Lin, another former NBA veteran who now plays for the Beijing Ducks, took to his Weibo page to offer his support for Weems, condemning fans for their “abuse”.
“The abuse Weems received was truly disrespectful, that word carried so much pain, injustice and hate that I couldn’t put into words,” Lin said. “I want us all to remember that as individuals we have to be careful what we say. Because every word we speak carries its meaning and will have a lot of power and impact. Be careful.”