Alibaba and JD.com ban sales of US NBA teams Houston Rockets items after pro-Hong Kong tweet

Alibaba and JD.com have banned products relating to the NBA’s Houston Rockets after its general manager appeared to support the Hong Kong anti-government protests on Twitter.

The Houston Rockets could face a significant financial hit as China’s biggest online retail platforms appear to have removed all of their merchandise amid the ongoing crisis in Hong Kong.

Alibaba’s Tmall and Taoboa, as well as its rival JD.com’s platform yield no search results for “Houston Rockets” or “Rockets”, according to CNBC.

This comes after the team’s general manager Daryl Morey posted a Tweet supporting pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong, using their slogan “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong”.

The tweet drew widespread condemnation from both Chinese media and Chinese retailers.

READ MORE: Amazon sparks outrage for selling “Hong Kong is Not China” t-shirts as Chinese brand “witch hunt” escalates

Despite issuing a follow-up statement stating that he hoped “those who are upset will know that offending or misunderstanding them was not my intention”, the Chinese Basketball Association immediately suspended its cooperation with the Houston Rockets and cancelled four upcoming games scheduled in China, including Rockets matches.

Alibaba’s co-founder Joseph Tsai, who also owns the Brooklyn Nets NBA team, said that although he would take his apology at face value, the “hurt that this incident has caused will take a long time to repair.”

Furthermore, tech giant Tencent, which owns the digital rights to NBA games in China said it would stop showing Rockets matches or news about the team, alongside Chinses state broadcaster CCTV.

Other retailers including Li-Ning also announced a suspension of co-operation with the team.

The NBA attempted to calm the situation by releasing its own statement saying it was “extremely disappointed” with Morey, drawing yet more criticism from US lawmakers and basketball fans for throwing the general manager under the bus and seeming to put money before human rights.

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1 Comment. Leave new

Should have known better than to express an opinion. People don’t like that! Just keep quiet, don’t ask questions and always do as you’re told.

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