76ers center Joel Embiid is a unique basketball hybrid that coaches, fans and endorsers dream about — a marvelous combination of Hakeem Olajuwon, Moses Malone and Wilt Chamberlain. The superstar 7-footer just signed a shoe endorsement deal with Under Armour that those great basketball stars could only dream about, being from less lucrative eras. According to Nick DePaula at ESPN, Embiid is leaving Adidas behind for a 5-year deal that makes him the #2 basketball man in the Under Armour tent — after two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry.
— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) October 11, 2018
Under Armour is trying to compete in a realm dominated by Nike, which owns the Jordan brand and has a stable of NBA greats that includes LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Embiid, a rising new star who appeared in his first All-Star Game last season, is just what the Under Armour doctor ordered. The Cameroonian big man oozes confidence, intelligence, and a lively engaging style of both play and fan interaction. Like Curry, Embiid has developed an extremely loyal fan base, especially as he has figured as a key element in “The Process” — whereby Sixers fans were asked to be immensely patient while the team went through painful rebuilding.
Under Armour says the deal makes Embiid the highest paid “big man” in the shoe endorsement game, a fact notable because big men have had difficulty marketing shoes in the past. Even such popular figures as Shaquille O’Neal couldn’t make a big impact in the shoe endorsement space. Embiid and Under Armour look to reverse the trend. (Steph Curry signed with Under Armour in 2013.)