Signature shoe deals are made for every sports league’s best and most marketable athletes. But sometimes, some shoo-ins may make some eyebrows raise. It’s not because these players are not skilled enough in their craft, but for the reason that there could be more deserving ones that could not be granted one, at least for now.
Nonetheless, it is safe to assume that these players are on the right brand at the right time.
Hence, here are some NBA players who have signature shoe deals that many fans don’t know about.
Gordon Hayward, Anta
The 6-foot-7 Gordon Hayward was a prolific scorer and a go-to guy during his stint with the Utah Jazz. The Butler product was given the nod as an All-Star in 2017 and even signed a lucrative four-year, US$128 million contract with the Boston Celtics during the offseason of that same year.
Though his promising addition to the Celtics did not result in a championship and a long-term partnership, Hayward kept securing the bag with another massive deal — this time with the Charlotte Hornets.
Hayward inked a four-year, US$120 million deal with the Hornets back in 2020. And despite an apparent decline in his game, it could not be denied that Hayward made some intelligent moves to secure his post-NBA life. But along with these huge NBA deals — which were tagged by fans as some of the worst signings in league history — the now 32-year-old forward is also enjoying the privileges that only a selected few have.
Chinese sneaker brand Anta signed Hayward to a four-year shoe deal in 2018 and a five-year contract extension in 2022. Given that the aging forward made another sweet deal, it is not even the cream of the crop. Along with a massive shoe deal, the Hornets forward was also granted a signature shoe series that is now on its third installment (Anta GH 3). The Anta GH series already has a fourth installment to be released in Spring 2023.
CJ McCollum, Li-Ning
The 31-year-old CJ McCollum, who played most of his career alongside Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lilliard, is now a pivotal member of the New Orleans Pelicans.
Despite his major contributions to the Blazers’ success in the past few seasons, it could not be denied that Lilliard’s stardom overshadowed the 6-foot-3 scorer’s brilliance. The lesser of the combo, indeed.
Nonetheless, the Lehigh product still landed a major sneaker deal that even some of the NBA’s superstars could not have: a signature shoe deal. In 2017, the high-scoring guard signed a multi-year deal with Chinese brand Li-Ning, the same brand that hooked Miami Heat legend Dwayne Wade in.
McCollum risked inking a shoe deal with Li-Ning after his previous endorser, Nike, opted not to match the offer. The risk paid off, as the prolific scorer was also granted his own signature shoe line (Li-Ning CJ), which is now on its second installment.
Jimmy Butler, Li-Ning
Alongside McCollum, another big name that Li-Ning signed is Miami Heat’s own star, Jimmy Butler. The former Marquette standout played most of his NBA career lacing up the Jordan brand. However, never did the two-way forward get any chance to land a signature shoe deal with the Jordan.
But the tides changed when Butler signed a massive multi-year deal with the Li-Ning in 2020. The “Big Face Coffee” founder’s marketability skyrocketed after his lone championship stint during the NBA bubble in 2020.
In 2022, the Li-Ning JB 1 was finally released, launching Butler’s first-ever signature shoe in his 12 seasons in the league. Despite being under the radar, the Li-Ning JB 1 could be an exciting signature shoe to be laced up. Check its performance review here.
Matthew Dellavedova, PEAK
Matthew Dellavedova is probably one of the most surprising names to appear on this list. The member of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ championship team signed a multi-year deal with another Chinese brand, PEAK, back in 2016.
The goal is to introduce the concept of PEAK basketball shoes across Australia. With the vision in mind, PEAK worked with the one-time champion in developing a signature shoe. Hence, the PEAK Delly 1 was born.
Though it seemed like the original plan did not pan out — given the underwhelming welcome of the PEAK Delly on the court and since the signature shoe series have not been heard since — the brand showed a daring stand in introducing their cutting-edge technologies across the globe.
Aaron Gordon, 361 Degrees
Predominantly known for his high-flying in-game dunks and breathtaking performances during the 2016 and 2020 NBA All-Star Dunk contests, Aaron Gordon is embracing a championship-caliber role playing for the Denver Nuggets. The 2014 fourth overall pick proves that he is more than just a dunker, as he contributes 17.3 points and 6.9 rebounds on a nightly basis for the West’s top-seeded team.
Moreover, the Arizona product signed a multi-year deal with the Chinese brand 361 Degrees, making the high-flying forward its newest face. The deal, which includes signature shoes and apparel, has now released multiple basketball sneakers under the 361 Degrees x Aaron Gordon line.
Kevin Love, 361 Degrees
Before the rise of Aaron Gordon, 361 Degrees started building its sneaker empire with the five-time All-Star, Kevin Love, back in 2011 when he was still a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Chinese brand released a signature shoe line for the one-time champion. However, the 361 Degrees x Kevin Love shoe line’s marketability and popularity did not rise. So when his contract with the brand expired in 2015, the sweet-shooting forward officially left the China-based brand and returned to Nike.
Unfortunately, we no longer witnessed any signature shoe line under Love’s name.
Spencer Dinwiddie, K81ROS and 361 Degrees
“If you can’t have one, make one.”
This is probably what Spencer Dinwiddie was thinking for his unique and unorthodox approach in having a signature shoe line. Unlike others, the Brooklyn Nets guard made his own sneaker company and released his own signature shoe line, the K8IROS.
Apparently, the brand’s popularity did not significantly skyrocket. This could be a trend that may arise among NBA players sooner or later.
For some reasons, Dinwiddie then signed a sneaker deal with 361 Degrees in 2022, joining Aaron Gordon. The brand has also released the 361 DVD1 or SD1, a signature shoe under Dinwiddie’s name.
Other notable NBA free agents who also have their signature shoes:
- Lou Williams, PEAK
- Langston Galloway, IgONE (Own brand)