SBD/Issue 237/Sports Industrialists

Vaccaro Eyes Return To Hoops Business, May Team With Li-Ning

Vaccaro's Return To Summer Hoops Scene
Could Force The Hand Of Nike, Adidas

Former Nike, adidas and Reebok exec Sonny Vaccaro confirmed that he is "being pursued by four different companies" to aid in his "quest to again dominate amateur basketball at the grassroots level," according to Gary Parrish of CBSSPORTS.com. Sources indicated that Li-Ning is a "strong possibility to back Vaccaro as a way of countering Nike's ongoing and aggressive move into China." The plan is for Vaccaro to "secure a deal, put the strength of his name behind" a new summer basketball venture, "then hire point men in various cities to disperse the money and apparel however they see fit all in the name of securing commitments from elite talents." Vaccaro said, "I will get x amount of dollars and x amount of equipment or whatever, disperse it to my people, then they'll disperse it to their people, and then things will happen. That's my plan. And if it happens, I think we'll be competitive right out of the gate." Until Vaccaro has signed a contract, "nothing is certain." But the former sneaker exec said that he "absolutely expects to sign a deal with somebody, and that he has every intention of getting back in and creating the kind of opportunities that have vanished in his absence." Parrish noted Vaccaro's return to the basketball scene "will likely force Nike and adidas to spend more money than they've been spending during Vaccaro's absence." Grassroots Basketball of America Founder Gary Charles said, "I do think Sonny returning will make Nike and adidas stand up again. Right now Nike and adidas can do whatever they want, just tell (summer coaches) to take it or leave it. ... But with Sonny back in, people will have choices" (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/23).

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