Harden, a guard for the Philadelphia 76ers who is visiting the basketball-obsessed country, was promoting his J-Harden wine on a Tuesday livestream on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, hosted by online celebrity Crazy Brother Yang. The livestream attracted more than 15 million viewers, according to state-backed newspaper Global Times.
During the livestream, Yang asked how many bottles Harden usually sells in a day, to which he replied “a few cases.”
“I’ll give you a sense of how many orders I can make in an instant,” Yang said.
“Show me,” Harden said as he sat with his arms crossed.
“Ready? Go!” Yang shouted into the camera, followed 14 seconds later by “Stop!”
Informed by an interpreter that the first round of bottles — 5,000 orders of two bottles each for $60 — had already sold out, Harden laughed out loud and said “No way!” before looking at a computer screen to verify the sales.
After a second round of 6,000 bottles also sold out in seconds, Harden performed a cartwheel in excitement.
Livestream shopping has become a booming business and a cultural phenomenon in China in recent years. Key livestreaming platforms did almost $174 billion in sales in the first six months of this year, according to Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency. Over 2.7 million livestreamers hosted 110 million shows and sold 70 million kinds of products, the agency reported last month, citing data from the Ministry of Commerce.
Celebrities and sports stars often team up with livestreamers to promote their products.
Harden’s livestream became a trending topic on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging site, where many fans suggested Harden should stay in China and become an online influencer if he was not happy playing in the NBA.
Harden’s trip to China is his first since 2019, when the NBA faced backlash there over comments by Daryl Morey, then the general manager of the Houston Rockets.
Morey had expressed support on X, then known as Twitter, for pro-democracy protesters in the Chinese territory of Hong Kong, drawing the ire of Chinese authorities and prompting Chinese sponsors and partners to sever ties with the league and state-run broadcaster CCTV to stop airing almost all NBA games for more than two years.
Morey later apologized for the remarks, which came as the Rockets were due to play a pre-season exhibition game in China.
Harden, who played for the Rockets at the time, also apologized, saying “we love China, we love playing here.”
A day before the livestream, Harden again lashed out at Morey, now president of the 76ers. Harden, 33, picked up a $35.6 million option with the team for this season but has said he wants to be traded.
“Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of,” he said in response to questions at a media event in China on Monday, according to NBA.com.
Team officials have not commented publicly on Harden’s remarks.