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.
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.
Included are some of the other top basketball players who have deals with these brands.
Klay Thompson, Anta
The legacy of “China Klay” is one that has become immortalized on Twitter. After originally signing a deal with Anta in 2014, the Golden State Warriors superstar agreed to a 10-year extension two years later. The contract, which is worth $80 million, runs until 2026. He has said he aims to be the Michael Jordan of the brand.
CJ McCollum, Li-Ning
During the 2017 offseason, the Portland Trail Blazers star became the biggest player to sign with Li-Ning since Wade. He was originally signed to Nike but became familiar with the brand because of his older brother, Errick McCollum — who had been one of the better scorers in the CBA.
Gordon Hayward, Anta
Last fall, Boston Celtics star Gordon Hayward was one of the biggest sneaker free agents in the NBA. He originally wore Thompson’s shoe since switching to Anta but the GH1 sneakers are currently rumored to officially drop in December 2019.
Lou Williams, Peak
After winning the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2018, PEAK released the CRAZY6 Pack for Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams. He has said that he is “his own boss” at the company and made more in one season with them than he did in eight combined with Nike.
Rajon Rondo, Anta
The four-time All-Star and NBA champion has repped Anta since 2013. The latest editions in the line (RR5) were described by WearTesters.com as one of the “most well-rounded shoes” in a 2018 performance review. Anta is certain to love the fact that he is playing alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis in Los Angeles as the kicks will be prominently featured on TV this season.
Evan Turner, Li-Ning
Atlanta Hawks wing Evan Turner most recently wore the Li-Ning Sonic 7 but has also sported the YuShai 11 and the YuShai 12 sneakers, which are the most popular from the brand. McCollum said that Turner convinced him to sign with the brand. The two were teammates from 2016 until 2019.
Matthew Dellavedova, Peak
After playing his first few NBA seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2013 until 2016, Matthew Dellavedova returned to the Cavs last season. He played for a championship-winning team, which helped earn him a signature shoe deal.
Michael Carter-Williams, Li-Ning
This is particularly interesting because Carter-Williams was actually on the Rockets last season. But the former Rookie of the Year played just 16 games for Houston before he was traded in January and subsequently waived. Other former Houston players to wear a Chinese brand include both Chandler Parsons (who repped Anta before his 2015 ankle injury) as well as Dwight Howard (whose deal expired this summer).
Kevon Looney, Anta
The Golden State big man had a busy offseason after an impressive playoff run with the Warriors. After signing a three-year deal to remain with the team that drafted him in 2015, earlier this month Looney joined Thompson as an endorser for Anta. His teammate Jacob Evans rocked Anta as a rookie last season as well.