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.
What Does Joel Embiid’s Record Under Armour Deal Mean for the Rest of the NBA?
Signature shoes have taken over the NBA
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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