(Philadelphia, PA)—LeBron James has Nike, John Wall just signed a deal with Reebok, and Sixers rookie Evan Turner has Li-Ning?
That's right, the former Big Ten Player of the Year is the second NBA player to sign with the fastest growing shoe company in China.
The formal announcement was made yesterday by people within Turner's camp. The Sixers rookie will wear shoes already in Li-Ning's roster this season, with a player-specific shoe and clothing line to come next season.
"Adding a supreme young talent like Evan Turner sends a message to the global basketball community that Li-Ning basketball is committed to being a player on the global stage," said Li-Ning basketball director Brian Cupps.
Li-Ning has formerly represented players like Shaquille O'Neal as well as current Chinese players Yi Jianlian and Sun Yue. Baron Davis of the Clippers is currently on Li-Ning's roster of players with his own player-specific shoes.
The Chinese apparel company has been available in the U.S. for the past five years, mostly in the fashion sneaker industry. Li-Ning has built its reputation as the leading provider for international table tennis and badminton apparel since they were founded in 1990.
This is not the first time an NBA player has gone with a relatively unknown shoe company. Many basketball purists will remember when Grant Hill entered the league and helped launch FILA into the mainstream basketball shoe market. Those same people will also remember how FILA has been blamed for the nagging ankle injuries that Hill has faced throughout his career.
Let's just hope this move was made with Turner's best physical interest in mind.
They have always said that basketball has gone global, and this is another factor in the movement. The real question is will kids in Philadelphia really wear Air Li-Ning's?
Click Here for a link to the Li-Ning shoes currently available in the U.S.