As controversy between the NBA and China continues, a spotlight is being shone on the players signed to Chinese sneaker brands.
The NBA-China conflict made headlines last Friday when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey posted a now-deleted tweet supporting protests in Hong Kong against Chinese rule.
For his part, Morey clarified that his views were not representative of the league. NBA commissioner Adam Silver published a statement on Oct. 8, writing, “The NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues.”
The fallout for the NBA continues both at home and overseas. In the U.S., lawmakers on both sides of the aisle criticized the league, which they said kowtowed to China. Across the Pacific, Chinese brands are reportedly planning to cut ties with the NBA. Sportswear brand Anta announced it would cease a contract renewal process with the league, and rival Li-Ning is purportedly no longer affiliating itself with the Rockets.
Both Anta and Li-Ning have signed U.S. basketball stars to their rosters in recent years. Below, see the top NBA athletes who have deals with Chinese sportswear brands:
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Dwyane Wade, Li-Ning
Wade signed with Li-Ning in 2012. In July 2018, the Miami Heat star, who retired at the end of the 2018-2019 season, extended that contract to a lifetime deal. While neither party disclosed specific terms of the contract, Wade reportedly has earned millions through his sponsorship and also has equity in the label. The ex-baller has his own signature line, called Way of Wade.
Klay Thompson, Anta
Arguably the most prominent current star signed to a Chinese brand, Thompson originally inked a deal with Anta in 2014. In 2017, the Golden State Warrior agreed to a 10-year extension that will keep him with Anta through 2026. This extension of the partnership could earn him an estimated $80 million, netting him one of the most lucrative sneaker deals in the NBA, according to SBNation.com. Thompson’s high-performing signature shoe, introduced in 2015, has gone through four iterations to date: the KT1, KT2, KT3 and KT4.
CJ McCollum, Li-Ning
In 2017, McCollum announced a five-year deal with Li-Ning that has included annual trips to China during the offseason. The Portland Trailblazer has collaborated with the brand on the YuShuai 12, a shoe that he’s adopted as his own.
Gordon Hayward, Anta
Ahead of the 2018-2019 season, Hayward inked a four-year partnership with Anta following the expiration of a longtime Nike deal. His Anta sponsorship includes a signature sneaker and apparel.
Rajan Rondo, Anta
Rondo, who is playing on the Los Angeles Lakers this season, has repped Anta since 2013, when he landed an eight-year deal with the label. Additionally, he has an eponymous signature sneaker with the brand. The RR5 is the latest in the franchise.
Kevon Looney, Anta
Looney signed a two-year contract with Anta earlier this month. The Golden State Warrior wore Adidas for his first four seasons in the league but said he decided to make the switch after trying on teammate Thompson’s shoes.
Matthew Dellavedova, Peak
Dellavedova signed a three-year deal with Peak in 2016. The Cleveland Cavalier has a signature sneaker with the Chinese sportswear brand, called the Delly 1, which was released in Australia, his home country.
Evan Turner, Li-Ning
Turner signed to Li-Ning straight out of college in 2010, becoming the second NBA player to join the brand’s roster. The Atlanta Hawk most recently hit the court in the brand’s Sonic sneaker. Turner convinced former teammate McCollum to join team Li-Ning.
Lou Williams, Peak
Williams, who was named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2018, is signed to Chinese brand Peak. After the Los Angeles Clipper won the Sixth Man honors, Peak released a Crazy6 Pack celebrating the new star.
Michael Carter-Williams, Li-Ning
In 2018, Carter-Williams played on the Houston Rockets, the team behind the current NBA-China controversy. But these days, the NBA star, who had an eponymous Li-Ning shoe drop in 2017, is signed with the Orlando Magic.
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