In another round of capitulation to the communist Chinese government in the name of profit, the predominantly left-leaning company Nike has removed Houston Rockets merchandise from its Chinese stores.
“Houston Rockets sneakers and other merchandise were pulled from several Nike stores in major Chinese cities amid the furor surrounding a tweet from the team’s general manager in support of anti-government protests in Hong Kong,” reports Reuters. “Managers at five Nike stores in Beijing and Shanghai told Reuters during visits on Thursday they had been told in recent days via a memo from management that all Rockets merchandise had to be removed. Reuters was unable to view the memo.”
“Three Nike stores in Shenzhen also kept Rockets merchandise off the shelves, as well as NBA products in general, staff told Reuters by phone,” the report continued. “Three Nike stores in Chengdu, a bustling inland city in southwest China, also removed Rockets products.”
Nike’s move to strip its Chinese stores of Rockets merchandise comes days after the controversy erupted over the NBA team’s general manager, Daryl Morey, expressed support for Hong Kong-based protesters. Morey’s support angered China, which has a large NBA fanbase. Morey has since deleted and apologized for the tweet.
“I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China,” Morey tweeted. “I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives. I have always appreciated the significant support our Chinese fans and sponsors have provided and I would hope that those who are upset will know that offending or misunderstanding them was not my intention. My tweets are my own and in no way represent the Rockets or the NBA.”
The NBA’s China market is one of the league’s top global customers, in terms of revenue. Reuters profiled the wider backlash that the NBA has faced throughout the country:
Major Chinese e-commerce platforms Alibaba and JD.com have taken Houston Rockets merchandise off their sales platforms, including mobile apps.
Searches for sneakers with the NBA logo on Alibaba and JD.com also yielded no results. Those include collaboration sneakers marketed with brands such as Nike and Carlyle-backed Supreme.
A handful of individual online merchants still sell the sneakers.
Alibaba, which declined to comment, told domestic media that Morey’s comments had seriously hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, and that there was no room for negotiation.
JD.com, which also did not comment, told local media that the firm deeply resented and strongly condemned Morey’s remarks.
Two of the largest online resale marketplaces for sneakers in China have also removed all branded shoes connected to the NBA, according to four sneaker traders.
Of course, Nike’s decision to pull Rockets merchandise to appease Chinese communists should come as no surprise, considering the company caved to Colin Kaepernick’s demand earlier this year to remove the Betsy Ross American flag from one of its newly planned shoe designs.