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Volume 26 No. 47
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Five Top NBA Draft Prospects Sign With Adidas, While Ben Simmons Gets Foot Locker Spot

Five of the NBA's "most sought-after draft prospects" will be the "newest additions" to adidas' roster of endorsers, according to AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA TODAY. The group, all of whom are "projected to be lottery picks" in tomorrow's Draft, includes Duke F Brandon Ingram, Cal F Jaylen Brown, Kentucky G Jamal Murray, Providence G Kris Dunn and Croatian F Dragan Bender. They "join a lengthy list of established NBA talent," including Trail Blazers G Damian Lillard, Rockets G James Harden, Bulls G Derrick Rose, Raptors G Kyle Lowry and T'Wolves G Andrew Wiggins (USA TODAY, 6/22). THE VERTICAL's Nick DePaula noted the signing of Ingram and Dunn "marks a major shift for adidas." Incoming players "are expressing more interest in joining the brand than in years past, thanks largely to the momentum from adidas’ partnership with Kanye West, its Boost cushioning technology and the lifestyle silhouettes from the adidas Originals category." adidas GM of Global Basketball Chris Grancio said, “Our playbook is simple -- partner with the best players and use their insights to change the game and connect with young athletes." DePaula noted though he wore Nike at Duke, Ingram "played for an adidas-sponsored AAU team in high school and participated in several Under Armour grassroots events." Sources said that Ingram "didn't have any particular brand loyalty and entered his shoe deal negotiations with an open mind" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/21).

BEST FOOT FORWARD: Foot Locker yesterday launched two new 30-second ads featuring NBA Draft prospect Ben Simmons, with both spots focusing on Simmons seeking advice for his rookie season. In "It's Not Real Yet," Simmons produces his own papier mache version of T'Wolves C Karl-Anthony Towns. The second spot, "It's Real Now," shows Towns, Suns G Devin Booker and Lakers G D'Angelo Russell giving Simmons advice on life after the Draft. Russell pokes fun at his own rookie mistakes, including the dispute he had with teammate Nick Young (Foot Locker). ESPN's J.A. Adande said of the Russell spot, "It's not so funny when you consider (the commercial) was released the same week in which Nick Young and Iggy Azalea broke up" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 6/21). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said Russell throwing Simmons' cell phone into a swimming pool will help build his "reputation" among fans, "sycophants and people who like to watch" TMZ. But among "actual players and coaches in the league, particularly in Los Angeles where they think this guy has been a clown for much of his rookie year, not at all." ESPN's Tony Kornheiser: "It's not only a good commercial, his role in it is brilliant" ("PTI," ESPN, 6/21). ESPN’s Mike Greenberg: “Everything about the commercial is good, but is the commercial itself a good idea? ... If you're the Lakers, ... are you thinking to yourself, ‘Okay, this is good, it will help us put this behind us, it’ll cast sort of a humorous side to it,’ or are you thinking, ‘My goodness, this kid is so immature he doesn't recognize this was actually something serious and it should have been treated as such’” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 6/22).