The fallout following a recent tweet from Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has displayed how much impact China has on the NBA.
After the basketball executive posted about his support for protestors in Hong Kong, there have been perhaps unforeseen consequences. These have ranged from a public apology issued by the organization to rumors that the job status of the general manager is in jeopardy – though those have been refuted.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) suspended all ties with the Rockets and canceled an upcoming scrimmage involving Houston’s G League affiliate.
Other companies in China to distance themselves from the Rockets include sponsor Shanghai Pudong Development Bank (SPD Bank) Credit Card Center as well as China Central Television, Tencent Sports and Shanghai Jiayin Finance Technology.
Perhaps the most notable company that is no longer affiliating themselves with the Rockets, at least for basketball fans, is Chinese sportswear company Li-Ning.
There may still be other Chinese apparel companies that could take a similar approach. Chinese sneaker brands like Li-Ning and Anta have a significant share of endorsements and partnerships with several around the NBA.
For example, three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade first inked an endorsement deal with Li-Ning in September 2012, leaving Jordan Brand and Converse to sign a $10 million contract with the Chinese company. He then agreed to a “lifetime” deal with Li-Ning in 2018.