What Does Joel Embiid’s Record Under Armour Deal Mean for the Rest of the NBA?

Signature shoes have taken over the NBA

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Joel Embiid / Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Last week, Joel Embiid signed an endorsement contract with Under Armour, a five year pact that will make him the highest-paid endorser at his position. This development happens to dovetail with a trend that has dominated the NBA: Signature shoes.

According to that same ESPN report, around 70 percent of players that played in an NBA game last year wore a signature model, of which there were only 19: 11 from U.S.-based companies, eight from Chinese-based companies. When Puma Hoops was recruiting first overall draft pick De'Andre Ayton to join their brand before his rookie season, they won him over with a pitch that involved De'Andre creating his own line with Puma, something a brand like Nike and Adidas doesn't typically offer athletes until they've become well-established stars. Under Armour presumably adopted a similar approach: Instead of taking a "prove-it" deal with someone like Nike, Embiid has input and buy-in that he might not have elsewhere.

This is a trend that's going to continue, especially as new brands enter the market. While brands like Anta and PEAK are lesser-known domestically, they can offer players more money, more input and more control. To make the understatement of the century, feet are quite important in the NBA; most, if not all, players' shoes contain custom orthotics, making off-the-rack or concerns about durability and fit somewhat irrelevant. (Some players go through about 50 shoes a season). Now that the NBA has lifted many restrictions for on-court shoes, it's open season for apparel companies.

So who's next?

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