One of the best things about being a sneaker enthusiast in the United States is the variety of shoes you can see in action while watching basketball. Nearly every night, there are dozens of must-see sneakers in the NBA, and there’s even more outstanding footwear on the collegiate level. However, while players stateside are free to wear just about anything they want on the court, a much different scenario is playing out in China, where the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) has imposed harsh sneaker restrictions on its players.
According to GB Times, several CBA players have been using Chinese social media such as Sina Weibo to protest the league’s new sanction, which forces athletes to wear shoes made by the CBA’s exclusive sneaker sponsor, Li-Ning.
“Today I was told during the game, if I don’t wear the sponsor’s shoes, I’ll be given a technical foul and banned. Why was I deprived the right to wear my shoes?” wrote Xinjiang Flying Tigers player Zhou Qi, who has a sneaker endorsement with Nike.
Although the deal between the CBA and Li-Ning dates back to 2012, a loophole had previously allowed players to wear competitor sneakers if their respective sponsors paid the league $44,275 per season. Now, the CBA has ruled that every player in the league must wear Li-Ning shoes or face strict penalties.
In the States, Li-Ning is best known for its Dwyane Wade signature line, the Way of Wade, which recently released its fifth iteration and is available from wayofwade.com with prices ranging from $160 to $165.