In July, we posted a story lamenting the possibility of New Balance re-entering the world of NBA basketball. At the time, PUMA had just signed DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, and a slew of NBA rookies to be their newest on-court ambassadors. New Balance had become an active sponsor of their hometown squad, the Boston Celtics, and concurrently, Gordon Hayward, coming off a season-ending injury, was becoming a sneaker sponsor free agent. It would’ve only made sense for NB to pick up a hometown favorite as the face of their newly re-established basketball division, right?
In the end, Hayward signed with Chinese shoe company Anta, and thus far his season has not gotten off to the best start, irregardless of the footwear. This left Kawhi Leonard as the only option for NB- and arguably a better option at that. While PUMA teased the edition of the Toronto star, the brand ended up signing Leonard’s teammate, Danny Green.
According to Yahoo Sports, Leonard signed a multi-year deal with New Balance to become the face of their freshly resurrected basketball division. While contract details have not been revealed, this is arguably the best outcome for both sides. The quiet star departs from Jordan Brand to new pastures, just as he switched teams this offseason. New Balance gets a top five NBA All-Star, whose play style and demeanor mirrors the less flashy, functional foundation of the brand. With Kawhi rumored to end up with the Lakers next year, NB will have their brand well supported in either Los Angeles or in the Toronto market.
We look forward to seeing what models NB cooks up for their basketball division, and hope the company finds the same success as they did with their launch into the world of extreme sports with the New Balance Numeric skateboarding division.