SBJ/20100628/This Week's News

Reebok’s Shine: Wall an ‘aspirational’ player

Reebok made its largest commitment to an athlete in years because it believes former University of Kentucky point guard John Wall is an “aspirational” player who can capture the imagination of kids worldwide, said Tom Shine, senior vice president of global sports and entertainment marketing.

The agreement, announced last week, has been reported as being worth $25 million over five years, and though Shine would not discuss the size of the deal or any details about it, he did say, “No question, it’s the largest transaction we have had in sports for quite a while.”

Shine said Wall is the type of player who comes along only “once every several years.”

John Wall (center) speaks at the introduction
of his new Reebok shoe, the ZigTech Slash,
last Wednesday. With him are Todd Krinsky
(left), Reebok’s vice president of sports and
entertainment marketing, and Reebok
President Uli Becker.

A source said the deal includes guaranteed base salary, guaranteed royalties and performance bonuses, and two guaranteed signature shoes. Several companies vied to sign Wall, including Chinese shoe company Li Ning, which actually was prepared to pay more than Reebok, but Wall chose Reebok because of the amount of commitment in media dollars the company is willing to spend, said the source, who asked for anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly on the deal.

Wall was seen as a near lock to be drafted No. 1 overall by the Washington Wizards last Thursday, and East Coast coverage of the athletes who endorse Reebok is “critical,” Shine said.

Also, Wall plays point guard, the most marketable of all basketball positions, Shine said.

“It’s a position that every kid can dream of and pretend they are playing that position,” Shine said, noting the relatively smaller size of point guards compared with other position players.

Shine negotiated for Reebok. Dan Fegan, Lagardère Unlimited president of basketball, and Brian Clifton, president of Pindar Management Group, negotiated the deal for Wall.

“After meeting with top Reebok executives, Brian Clifton felt strongly and I agreed that Reebok viewed John Wall as a transformative player for the Reebok brand on potentially the same scale as Allen Iverson,” Fegan said.

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