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How Basketball Stars Are Making Obscure Sneaker Brands Relevant

Not just because LaVar Ball said so
by John Paulo Aguilera | Dec 15, 2017
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Gone are the days when the Swoosh and the Three Stripes would dominate every basketball court, and not just because LaVar Ball said so. Casual hoopers have been more willing to lace up pairs other than Nike and adidas, just like their favorite NBA superstars.

The official launch of Way of Wade 6 at the Art Basel in Miami a few days ago is the perfect example of minor entities making waves in the sneaker market. Dwyane Wade's latest signature basketball shoes with Li-Ning sure are "fire," but won't be getting enough attention if not for the three-time champion's seal of approval.

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Major players in performance footwear trade have long been aggressive in signing the biggest names to sell their products—Nike has LeBron James, adidas James Harden, and Under Armour Stephen Curry. Recently, smaller distributors are slowly embracing the effective strategy, which has greater impact on lesser competitors.

Klay Thompson inked a 10-year shoe deal with Anta last July, spawning birth to "China Klay" during the offseason. Peak, meanwhile, has Tony Parker and Dwight Howard. Heck, even PBA's Terrence Romeo is about to get his own signature shoe from the latter.

A big-shot brand ambassador's influence on a fledgling company can be broken down into these three factors:


It's easier to promote something that has a face, more so if that face belongs to someone who is exceptional in his field like a decorated athlete. Fans can identify with a star player's performance and/or personality. The DH3 is likely to be picked up by fun-loving big men, while shooters may have a fondness for the KT3.

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Basically what Big Baller Brand is trying to do right now: break up the monopoly on the retail industry. Challenging the establishment takes a lot of guts, but a superstar doing it sends a strong message: "I am not a mere pawn of capitalism." And with the increase of liberals in society, providing more options is a good move.

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Most importantly, an endorsement essentially marries a company with the person and his body of work. Snagging a high-profile endorser instantly boosts the integrity of the little-known merchandise. Potential buyers will associate every point scored and highlight play converted by the notable baller with his shoe.


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