Nike stores in China have reportedly removed all Houston Rockets’ gear from their shelves amid an international tension between the country and the NBA team.
According to Reuters, Nike — who hasn’t shied away from contributing to political discourse in the past — told their Chinese stores via a memo to remove all Rockets merchandise from shelves after Rockets general manager, Daryl Morey, accidentally created an international conflict by tweeting a picture showing solidarity for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
Mr. Morey deleted and apologized for the tweet, but it led China’s state broadcaster to cancel the broadcasts of preseason games in their country. Tensions only flared up further after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver supported Mr. Morey and his right to freedom of speech.
Six Nike stores across two cities in China confirmed to Reuters they have pulled Rockets gear from their shelves. An NBA store near Shanghai also reported removing the team’s merchandise.
A manager of the Shanghai basketball-themed NBA Playzone, who reportedly asked to remain unnamed, confirmed they also removed Rockets merchandise from the store shelves.
“Rockets products were hot before and when you stepped into the store, it was full of red. Now, it is mostly yellow and blue,” they said, referencing the Golden State Warriors colors.
This could mean trouble for the NBA, as their market in the world’s most populated country is worth more than $4 billion and has the greatest growth potential.
Nike, Nike’s China office and NBA China did not return Reuters’ request for comment.
• Bailey Vogt can be reached at email@example.com.
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