Former NBA player Guerschon Yabusele has been fined for bowing his head and not looking at the Chinese flag during the national anthem before a game on Dec. 6.
Yabusele, who plays for the Chinese Basketball Association’s (CBA) Nanjing Monkey Kings, was fined 10,000 yuan ($1,422) by the basketball association, CNN reported.
“I have the same routine, I’ve been doing this my whole career and I wanted to apologize for the people that took it Personnal [sic] because it was not my point,” Yabusele told TMZ Sports. “I will show my respect during the Chinese national anthem and keep my head up for now on, Love you guys.”
The former Boston Celtics was born in France and had a brief career in the NBA from 2016 to 2019. He was waived by the team this year, after which he joined his current team in China.
The fine comes amid controversy of forcing NBA players to have to stand for the Communist flag when they play their games in the country, which the NBA desperately wants. In order for that to happen, players cannot protest the Chinese government in any way.
Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey sent a tweet in support of the pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong, who have been demonstrating against the Chinese government and demanding more independence for the past seven months.
Morey, who has since deleted his tweet, wrote: “fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.”
The Chinese government pressured the NBA to fire Morey.
“We were being asked to fire him by the Chinese government,” The NBA league Commissioner Adam Silver said. “We said there’s no chance that’s happening. There’s no chance we’ll even discipline him.”
The NBA did, however, call Morey’s tweet “regrettable.”
Lebron James pushed back against Morey’s tweet, saying Morey “wasn’t educated on the situation at hand” to express his views on the demonstrations in Hong Kong or China’s human rights record.
“I’m not here to judge how the league handled the situation. I just think that, when you’re misinformed or you’re not educated about something, and I’m just talking about the tweet itself, you never know the ramifications that can happen,” James said.
James is outspoken about social justice issues in America and often protests during the American national anthem before his games.
Moreover, the activists who have been demonstrating against the communist state in Hong Kong for the past seven months burned James’ jersey in protest.
Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse also slammed James for his comments, accusing him of “parroting communist propaganda.”
— Senator Ben Sasse (@SenSasse) October 15, 2019
NBA legend Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal defended Morey, saying that he was right to tweet support for protesters.
“Whenever you see something wrong going on anywhere in the world, you should have the right to say, ‘That’s not right,’ and that’s what he did,” O’Neal said of Morey’s tweet.