Traditional Tibetan dance performed at an NBA match, following Twitter controversy

Tibetans dancing at an NBA protest (credit:
Tibetans dancing at an NBA protest (credit:
Tibetans dancing at an NBA protest (credit:
3rd December 2019

Dancers were part of a protest against the NBA.


Tibetan dancers performed a traditional dance at a National Basketball Association (NBA) match in Philadelphia on 30 November 2019. 

The Tibetan Association of Philadelphia performed in traditional Kongpo dresses at the match between Philadelphia 76ers and Indiana Pacers. 

Their performance also acted as a protest following the recent controversy surrounding the NBA and its relationship with China. The dancers called for freedom for Tibetan, Uyghurs and Hong Kongers.

China and the NBA previously enjoyed a long commercial relationship, with the NBA profiting heavily from the huge number of Chinese NBA fans. In 2018 alone, nearly 500 million people in China tuned in to watch the NBA. 

However, Houston Rocket’s Manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support for Hong Kong: “Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” on 4 October 2019. Following the tweet, relations were quickly cut short by the Chinese government. Broadcasts of NBA games were suspended and censored in China as well as lucrative business deals. 

The situation between the NBA and China continues to be tense.  The NBA have notably sought to repair the damage and issued apologetic statements. The tweet has since been deleted too.

The controversy has sparked up the question of whether the NBA will continue to prioritise profit over issues such as human rights and democracy. This is a common dilemma for many big American corporations and companies who have relations with China. 

The reaction from the NBA was criticised by a cross-party group of US lawmakers in a public letter.