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Major Nike stores in China no longer selling Houston Rockets gear

A Chinese flag is seen placed on merchandise in the NBA flagship retail store on October 9, 2019 in Beijing, China.A Chinese flag is seen
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