Current and future stars stepping on the hardwood in style


In August this year, the NBA announced that it was easing restrictions on the color of sneakers that players could wear. Players are now free to don sneakers of any color at any point during the current season.

This was great news for both players and fans alike. But, another noteworthy development was the number of players who either get their own signature shoes or others who signed player-exclusive contracts with some of the leading sneaker and apparel manufacturers.

We look at a number of significant announcements:

One of the most anticipated events is probably the signature shoe for Nigerian-Greek All-Star sensation Giannis Antetokounmpo. The star signed a multimillion-dollar deal with Nike for ‘The Greek Freak 1’, his first signature sneaker with the brand and scheduled to debut during the 2018-19 NBA season.

After the deal was announced last year, Antetokounmpo even took to social media to engage his fans on what the shoe should look like from his Twitter account using the #StayFreaky hashtag.

A new Nike signee was Minnesota Timberwolves first-round pick Josh Okogie, who agreed to a multi-year shoe deal with the NBA’s official uniform manufacturer.

After spending his first four seasons in the NBA playing in Adidas shoes, Cameroonian All-Star Joel Embiid was spotted practicing in a different brand in the offseason. At the start of the regular season, it was announced that the Philadelphia 76ers franchise center had signed a five-year footwear and apparel endorsement deal with Under Armour. According to reports, it’s expected that the average annual value of the deal will make the 7-footer the highest-paid player in his position.

Another player with African connections that will be sporting Under Armour-branded sneakers is Ivorian center at the Orlando Magic, Mohamed Bamba. The rookie officially signed a multi-year endorsement deal with the Maryland-based sportswear company in the offseason.

Guinean rookie at the Oklahoma City Thunder, Hamidou Diallo, also joined the Under Amour ranks recently after he signed a multi-year shoe deal with shoe and apparel brand. The high-flying freshman is wearing the new HOVR Havoc Low model to start the season.

Eight-year veteran All-Star Gordon Hayward of the Boston Celtics had been taking the court in player exclusive Nike sneakers, but recently he announced that he inked a deal with Asian shoe and apparel manufacturer Anta.

He is expected to debut his Anta! GH signature shoe later this season after concluding a four-year footwear and apparel deal, which also includes a signature apparel collection and marketing throughout Asia and the US.

Many might be shocked to learn that German sportwear company Puma produced the first pair of signature basketball sneakers way back in 1973—the PUMA Clyde—for former New York Knick Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier. Its last significant basketball endorsement contract was in 1998 with then Toronto Raptors rookie Vince Carter.

After leaving the space for 20 years, the brand made its return to hoops with a WNBA partnership by way of Dallas Wings guard Skyler Diggins Smith during the recently concluded season.

However, its recruitment drive did not stop there and Puma sneakers and apparel are being worn by the likes of DeMarcus Cousins, Terry Rizier, Danny Green, Rudy Gay, DeAndre Ayton, Kevin Knox, and former players God Shamgod and Jaylen Rose.

The Big Baller Brand may not be as prestigious as it sounds, but it did attract Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who debuted his signature shoe, the K8IROS, which he developed with a company called Project Dream.

Another company that’s making its return to basketball is New Balance, and it surprised the market by signing high school NBA prospect Darius Bazley to a guaranteed $1-million deal.

An honorable mention is basketball Hall of Famer Grant Hill, who signed a lifetime deal with FILA after being an ambassador for the brand for about 20 years. To launch the partnership, Hill will participate in Fila’s ComplexCon activation in November, where the company will unveil an exclusive line of products centered around the athlete. It will include two special-edition footwear styles that pay homage to Hill’s recent Hall of Fame induction as well as a line of tracksuits, hoodies, T-shirts and long-sleeved shirts.

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