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Houston Rockets Nike merchandise disappears from China stores

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Houston Rockets Nike merchandise disappears from China stores

By Ryan Woo and David Stanway

 

2019-10-11T124457Z_3_LYNXMPEF990O3_RTROPTP_4_CHINA-BASKETBALL-NBA-NIKE.JPG

A Nike store selling NBA Los Angeles Lakers sportswear is seen in Beijing, China October 10, 2019. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

 

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Houston Rockets sneakers and other merchandise were pulled from several Nike <NKE.N> 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.

 

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.

 

Although Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has since apologized for his tweet last week, National Basketball Association (NBA) Commissioner Adam Silver further angered authorities when he said the league backed Morey's right to exercise his freedom of expression.

 

Despite the controversy, the NBA was pressing ahead with an exhibition game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets in Shanghai on Thursday night. Promotional events earlier in the week had been canceled.

 

The stakes are high for NBA, whose league business in China is said to be worth more than $4 billion. The world's most populous nation is Nike's top source of revenue growth as other regions slow.

 

Three Nike stores in Shenzhen also kept Rockets merchandise off the shelves, as well as NBA products in general, staff told Reuters by phone. Three Nike stores in Chengdu, a bustling inland city in southwest China, also removed Rockets products.

 

Nike and its China office did not respond to multiple Reuters requests for comment.

 

A specialist NBA store at Super Brand Mall, a major shopping center in the Shanghai financial district of Lujiazui, has also removed all Rockets-related merchandise.

 

"Other stuff, there hasn't been any impact, and no one has said we need to withdraw it," said a store manager, laughing. "If they say that all NBA stuff has to be withdrawn then our store will go bankrupt."

 

At two basketball-themed NBA Playzone family entertainment centers in Shanghai and Beijing opened by NBA China, staff confirmed that Rockets products had been removed.

 

"Rockets products were hot before and when you stepped into the store, it was full of red. Now, it is mostly yellow and blue," the colors of the Golden State Warriors, said a manager at the Shanghai Playzone, who like the NBA store employee declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.

 

NBA China did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment about the entertainment centers.

 

WIDER BACKLASH

 

Major Chinese e-commerce platforms Alibaba <BABA.N> and JD.com <JD.O> 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 <CG.O> 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.

 

Poizon and DoNew, two mobile shopping apps popular among fans of designer sneakers, have taken NBA shoes off their platforms, traders said.

 

A Reuters search on Poizon and DoNew's apps with the keyword "NBA" returned no results.

 

Poizon did not respond to an emailed request for comment and phone calls to DoNew's office in Shanghai went unanswered.

 

"As long as the bosses of Nike and Adidas don't come out and say something stupid and get banned by China's central government, I think sneaker resales in China will remain pretty profitable," said Zhu Junwen, a reseller in Guangzhou.

 

Adidas <ADSGn.DE> is in the middle of a reported $200 million, 13-year endorsement contract with Houston Rockets star guard James Harden, who is the centrepiece of the apparel maker's basketball shoe lineup.

 

"But if (Nike and Adidas get banned), that would be the end of it," Zhu said.

 

(Reporting by Ryan Woo in Beijing and David Stanway in Shanghai; Additional reporting by Yawen Chen, Beijing newsroom, Shanghai newsroom, Josh Horwitz and Se Young Lee. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-10-12

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' say something stupid '  I am old enough to remember the cold war. Can you imagine, back then, western companies taking such threats from the Soviet union seriously? What is 'stupid' about speaking out against totalitarian repression? It's a bad joke but the joke's on democratic countries if they cave in to this type of bullying. If you let the Chinese dictate to businesses based in democratic countries on such things (as they have done with google etc for a number of years) then it is a downward slope to the Chinese controlling everything as we all know money and big corporations are what decides on how our countries are run these days even in the democratic 'free' world. Anybody or organization, company representative or employee who mentions the Dalai Llama or Uyghurs will be made bankrupt by economic pressure from Chinese entities. Heaven forbid if they rely on Chinese technology such as Huawei! Proof that being reliant on Chinese is not a good idea if proof were ever needed. Time to resist! Just let the Chinese do without all our western lifestyle brands and products and eventually the Chinese people will see it is their leaders they should blame for their less fulfilled lives and not us foreigners who have the lifestyle they crave for because of our freedoms.

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Isn't it about time that Americans shut up about what goes on in other countries. It reminds me of the bible adage which asks how you can see the speck in your brother's eye, but cannot see the log in your own.

Message to the US sort some of your own moral and human rights problems out before throwing stones.....people in glass houses should not throw stones.

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Think I will boycott all things made in China. I'm getting really piiiiii~@d off with all this Chinese pressure on us. Yep starting today I am adding China to my list: kellogs, Starbucks, subway, Gillette and anything made in France. Oh dear my phone is Huawei...... When I replace it I will get Samsung next year.... No more Huawei for me. 

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9 hours ago, sunnyboy2018 said:

Apologies to the murderous Chinese Dynasty.  The moral vacuum that 'sport' inhabits in its greedy pursuit of profit.

EMPEROR Xi Ji Ping or president for life as he called himself.... and Chinese thought all emperors were removed and they just elected one with an ego as big as the Donald

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all about money, Chinese love the "green" one better than their pinkish/maoish one.... if they really wanted to make a point they would have removed ALL products related to NBA not only related to one team

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