A Chinese flag is seen placed on merchandise in the NBA flagship retail store this week in Beijing, China. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Merchandise from the NBA's Houston Rockets has been pulled from several Nike stores in China in the wake of a controversy over a tweet by Rockets general manager Daryl Morey in support of anti-government protests in Hong Kong, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: China is Nike's top source of revenue growth, per Reuters. The Houston Rockets have an especially large following in China thanks to the success of Yao Ming, a former Rockets player who now heads the China Basketball Association.

The impact: So far, China has blacked out preseason games and condemned Morey's tweet. Morey has since taken the tweet down and stated that it was not his intention to offend the NBA's Chinese fans.

NBA's league business in China is said to be worth more than $4 billion, per Reuters. 11 out of 13 Chinese businesses have cut ties with the league.

Communication from players is tight-lipped as well. In Saitama, Japan, CNN's Christina Macfarlane was cut off by NBA officials at a press conference after she asked Houston Rockets players how they feel about speaking out on social issues in the future.

Go deeper: The basketball tweet that set off a geopolitical firestorm

Go deeper

Updated 23 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Axios-Ipsos poll: Federal response has only gotten worse — The swing states where the pandemic is raging.
  2. Health: The coronavirus is starting to crush some hospitals — 13 states set single-day case records last week.
  3. Business: Winter coronavirus threat spurs new surge of startup activity.
  4. Media: Pandemic causes cable and satellite TV providers to lose the most subscribers ever.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota COVID cases traced to 3 Trump campaign events.
  6. World: Unrest in Italy as restrictions grow across Europe.

Ted Cruz defends GOP's expected return to prioritizing national debt

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told "Axios on HBO" on Monday that he wishes reining in the national debt was a higher priority for President Trump.

Why it matters: Trump pledged during the 2016 campaign to reduce the national debt and eliminate it entirely within eight years, though he also deemed himself "the king of debt" and said there were some priorities that required spending. In the fiscal year that ended in September, the deficit reached a record $3.1 trillion.

Federal judge blocks DOJ from defending Trump in Carroll rape defamation case

E. Jean Carroll in Warwick, New York. Photo: Eva Deitch for The Washington Post via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed the Justice Department's attempted intervention on behalf of President Trump in writer E. Jean Carroll's defamation lawsuit against him, after she accused him of raping her in a dressing room in the mid-1990s.

Catch up quick: The agency argued that Trump was "acting within the scope of his office" as president when he said in 2019 that Carroll was "lying" about her claim.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!