- American basketballer Sonny Weems was the target of racial abuse that was filmed last week in China.
- Fans yelled slurs at the ex-NBA pro after he engaged in a brawl with another Chinese league athlete.
- The crowd’s actions were condemned by the CBA and former Houston Rockets baller Jeremy Lin.
A courtside scuffle between two Chinese Basketball Association players turned even uglier last week when fans shouted racial slurs and vulgarities at one of the athletes after the game.
American basketballer Sonny Weems, who plays for the Guangdong Southern Tigers, was filmed exiting his team bus last Thursday as a small crowd chanted the N-word, telling him “fuck you” and “get out of China.”
In the video, the 35-year-old athlete appears to flash a smile at the angry fans, prompting one of them to say: “Don’t you give me a smile!” in Mandarin. Several giggles can be heard as Weems silently walks off-camera.
On Friday, the CBA posted a statement on social media platform Weibo, saying it “firmly opposes and strongly condemns any form of racial discrimination.”
The association also wrote an open letter to basketball fans, asking them to “follow public order and good customs” and “resist vulgar words and deeds” ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
It’s not immediately clear why the fans in the video shouted at Weems. He and Han Dejun, a player for the Liaoning Flying Leopards, clashed near the Southern Tigers bench on Thursday after Han fell to the floor guarding a drive from Weems in the third quarter, Xinhua News reported.
While the referee watched a video replay to check for fouls, Han approached the Guangdong bench and punched Weems, who retaliated, per Xinhua. The outlet reported that both players were sent off the court after being separated by the referee and their teammates.
According to Xinhua, Han was fined $31,440 and suspended for seven games, while Weems was fined $22,008 and suspended for five games.
Weems hasn’t publicly addressed his altercation with Han nor the racism displayed toward him last Thursday, but he posted a series of heart-shaped emojis in various colors that same day. Fans on Weibo expressed their support for the basketballer.
“Don’t worry, we’ll always support you,” wrote one user.
“Brother Kun, please help us pass the word to him,” said another, writing to a teammate of Weems’. “The thousands and tens of thousands of Guangdong are supporting him. The fans at Liaoning are notoriously rubbish. Let’s ignore them. They’re all mad dogs.”
Fellow ex-NBA player Jeremy Lin voiced his support for Weems on Weibo as well. “I’ve experienced myself what it’s like to be called a “Chinaman” in a place where I’m considered a “foreigner,” wrote the Beijing Ducks point guard who formerly played for the New York Knicks.
“And to be honest, it’s scary when everyone around you doesn’t look like you. The abuse Weems received really felt disrespectful, that word carried so much hurt, unfairness, and hatred that I couldn’t put into words,” Lin continued.
The Chicago Bulls picked Weems in the 2008 NBA draft, and he spent several seasons with the Denver Nuggets, Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers, and Phoenix Suns. After a few years in the Euroleague and with the Chinese team Zhejiang Golden Bulls, he joined the Southern Tigers in 2018 and won three consecutive CBA championships.
The shooting guard and small forward spoke out in the past against hateful behavior toward Asians, tweeting his “condolences to all my Asian brothers and sisters” in 2021.
—Sonny Weems (@SonnyWeems13) March 17, 2021
Courtesy By INSIDER