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Volume 24 No. 178
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Jordan Brand Makes Chinese Basketball Star Guo Ailun First Int'l Athlete With Signature Shoe

Basketball player Guo Ailun, who in the spring signed on as Jordan Brand's first Chinese endorser, is set to become the "first international athlete to have his own Jordan signature sneaker," according to Nick DePaula of ESPN.com. Negotiated by Wasserman, the shoe deal will pay Guo more than $3M annually "after incentives." Guo previsouly had a personal deal with China-based brand Li-Ning, which also had an "exclusive footwear rights deal" with the Chinese Basketball Association, where Guo is a guard with the Liaoning Flying Leopards. That deal "just expired, and the league is now going through a series of options for the upcoming season." It is "expected that the league will go back to allowing all brands to have logo visibility on court, as no company has stepped up with interest in paying" the $60M per season that Li-Ning had been paying. Despite "varied talents and tuned-in audience," the NBA's influx of big men from China, including HOFer Yao Ming, "never made an impact on the footwear industry." Guo aims to "break that mold" and as their partnership "continues to grow, Guo and Jordan Brand are also hoping to impact the game and his local community." Guo said, "I want to start some training camps in my hometown with Jordan. I want to go to some rural and poor areas in China and donate courts and do a lot together." As it stands, Jordan Brand "didn't sign him with the expectation that they'd be getting in early on one of the sport's next crossover stars in America." The brand signed Guo to "further entrench the brand in China, regardless of the league in which he plays" (ESPN.com, 8/17).