American basketball player Sonny Weems had to endure racial abuse from fans in China. A video has been circulated on social media where the fans can be heard shouting the ‘N’ word and ‘get out of China’ continuously at Weems. The 35-year-old basketball player is a part of the Guangdong Southern Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association.
The incident occurred last Thursday in the match between the Southern Tigers and the Liaoning Flying Leopards. Weems was caught in a fight with the Chinese player Han Dejun during the match and both players were ejected from the game.
The racial abuse happened when Weems exited the team bus with the rest of his team members. A crowd of fans started hurling racial slurs against him. Weems is seen ignoring the crowd in the viral video.
The CBA said on Friday that they have a zero-tolerance attitude toward any type of discrimination. They issued an open letter to ask the fans to avoid this type of uncivilized behavior and racial words.
The letter says that fans should behave in a civilized manner and respect each other and the players both inside and outside of the field. They should not do anything that damages the reputation of the team.
Both the teams criticized the behavior of the fans. The Flying Leopards said that the racial slurs have upset the Guangdong team and created a bad image for the league and fans. The team’s statement says that respecting opponents is the most basic quality of a player as well as a fan.
Weems did not make any immediate response. He also has not commented on the matter on his Twitter and Instagram accounts. He posted different colors of heart emojis on the Chinese social media platform Weibo.
Taiwanese-American player Jeremy Lin expressed his support to Weems on social media. He wrote on his Weibo page that it was extremely disrespectful to abuse Weems. The slurs were so hurtful, unfair, and full of hatred that he could not even put them into words.
Fans have also left supportive comments on Weems’ Weibo page. They said they will always be behind him. Some said they were sorry this type of incident happened. And they will always support him and stay with him in the fight.
Weems was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 2008 and played in the NBA for many seasons in his career. He joined the Chinese teal Southern Tigers in 2018 and the team won the past three titles with his help.
In just three weeks China is to host this year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing. Former NBA star and the current CBA president Yao Ming spoke on Monday about the significance of sports to bridge the gap between different communities.
He said that bridges often have traffic and there are collisions as well. It will take some time to solve the matter but they want to keep the bridges intact.