French former NBA player Guerschon Yabusele got rebuked and fined by the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) for not looking at the communist flag during the anthem before the game.
Yabusele, the 23-year-old forward for the Nanjing Tongxi Monkey Kings who played two seasons with the Boston Celtics got a “serious warning” for not paying proper respect to the flag of the communist dictatorship. His team took on the Zhejiang Golden Bulls in the game last Friday. Not looking at the flag cost him $1.400.
But Yabusele says he did not intend to hurt anybody’s feelings or to be disrespectful to CBA etiquette by looking down during the playing of “March of the Volunteers.” Instead, he said, he was praying.
“I have the same routine, I’ve been doing this my whole career and I wanted to apologize for the people that took it Personal [sic] because it was not my point,” Yabusele said on social media as reported by TMZ.
“I will show my respect during the Chinese national anthem and keep my head up for now on, Love you guys,” he added.
Since 2017, not showing respect to the flag is a crime in China and may lead to imprisonment for up to three years.
Earlier this year, Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey outraged CBA officials by posting a message to Twitter showing support for the Hong Kong protesters, the Epoch Times reported.
Chinese Businesses Punish Houston Rockets Over Manager’s Tweet Supporting Hong Kong Protests
NBA team the Houston Rockets’ Chinese sponsor and a Chinese sportswear maker have suspended work with the club after its general manager sent a tweet in support of Hong Kong protests over the weekend.
Morey’s tweet showed an image with the caption, “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong.”
Although Morey quickly deleted the tweet, sportswear brand Li-Ning, and sponsor Shanghai Pudong Development Bank (SPD Bank) Credit Card Center said on Oct. 6; they were suspending cooperation with it.
Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets speaks during a press conference announcing the signing of Jeremy Lin at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, on July 19, 2012. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Li Ning published a statement on the social media site “Weibo” that said, “We want to express our indignation and strong condemnation. We have already stopped our cooperation with the Houston Rockets, and continue to urge them to give a clear answer on this matter.”
The Chinese consulate general in Houston also issued a statement Sunday, condemning Morey’s remarks.
He said it had “made stern representations to the Rockets and requested them to clarify, to immediately correct any mistakes, and to eliminate any negative influences.”
The corporate announcements follow one earlier in the day from the CBA that said it was suspending “exchanges and cooperation” with the Houston Rockets.
Epoch Times reporters Huizhong Wu and Hallie Gu and Reuters contributed to this report