Guerschon Yabusele, who played with the Boston Celtics for two seasons before moving to a professional team in China, was hit with a "serious warning"—and a $1,400 fine—for not looking at the Chinese flag while the country's national anthem was played before the Nanjing Tongxi Monkey Kings' Friday game against the Zhejiang Golden Bulls. The 23-year-old, who was born in France, says he was simply praying, not trying to make a political statement. TV footage showed him with his head down, the South China Morning Post reports.
"I have the same routine, I've been doing this my whole career and I wanted to apologize for the people that took it (personally) because it was not my point," he said in a statement cited by TMZ. "I will show my respect during the Chinese national anthem and keep my head up for now on, Love you guys." The Chinese Basketball Association handbook dictates players must look at the flag while "March of the Volunteers" is played, and it's also a crime in China to show disrespect to the national anthem. (Read more China stories.)