Earlier this week, a Reddit user pointed out that the NBA Store will not allow people to order a custom NBA jersey with "Free Hong Kong" on the back.
Technically you'd need to enter "FreeHongKong" as "Free Hong Kong" (with spaces) exceeds the 12 character limit on customized jerseys. But the overall point was that it seemed as if the NBA was censoring the Hong Kong independence movement. This follows a discussion started by a tweet Rockets owner Daryl Morey sent last year, and a PR email sent by Sen. Josh Hawley last week.
Hawley argued that one of the approved social justice messages for players on the back of their jerseys should have been "Free Hong Kong." So people decided to test what that would look like on the back of an NBA jersey, and realized you couldn't put that message on a custom jersey in the NBA Shop.
Hawley, among others, commented on the apparent ban on jerseys featuring the words "Free Hong Kong."
After a few hours of controversy, the NBA Shop eventually allowed "FreeHongKong" on custom jerseys. Sporting News reached out to Fanatics, the company that runs the NBA online shop, and the company said the initial ban was an error.
"The phrase was inadvertently prohibited on our league online store sites and has now been fixed," a Fanatics representative told Sporting News. "Fans who wish to customize it, so long as the text meets the 12-character limit, are able to do so."
The NBA as a league has not commented on the issue.