lucky: How Guo Ailun became Jordan Brand's first Chinese signature star
How Guo Ailun became Jordan Brand's first Chinese signature star
Chinese Basketball Association All-Star Guo Ailun Antwan Barnes Womens Jersey grew up in the rural, northern Chinese city of Liaoyang, and remembers the first time he encountered NBA star Michael Jordan -- or at least a piece of him -- in the early 2000s. "The first time I remember Jordan was on a Japanese cartoon called Slam Dunk," he said. "One character on the show was a basketball player and he was wearing the Air Jordan 1. Ever since then, I loved Jordan." Jordan the player had already cemented his legacy in the sport as a globally recognized superstar well before the time he last played for the Chicago Bulls in 1998. However, It wasn't until the 1997-98 season that his Jordan Brand, a subsidiary of Nike Inc., had actually gone fully global and entered into Asia with the launch of the Air Jordan XIII. Two decades later, the company has established itself across Asia with its innovative shoe designs and the legacy of Jordan Brand basketball players who have signed onto the brand long after Jordan left the game for good in 2003. That roster now fittingly includes rising star point guard Guo, the first Chinese Basketball www.jetsshopnfl.com/antwan-barnes-jersey_c-415.html Association player signed to Jordan Brand. Guo, 23, will also become the first international athlete to have his own Jordan signature sneaker. The shoe deal, negotiated by the Wasserman agency, will pay him more than $3 million annually after incentives throughout the contract. This season, he'll once again be expected to lead the Liaoning Flying Leopards, his hometown CBA team that he has played for since 2010. In recent seasons, Guo had been signed with Chinese athletic brand Li-Ning, who also had an exclusive footwear rights deal with the CBA. League wide, players were provided Li-Ning footwear to wear in all games. During the first four seasons of the deal, if a player had another endorser, they could pay a fee and still cover the logo on their shoes, but this past season, the final year of the deal, all domestic CBA players were required to wear Li-Ning shoes, making lucrative deals with other brands difficult. That sponsorship agreement just expired, and the league is now going through a series of options for the upcoming season. It's expected that the league will go Johnny Hekker Womens Jersey back to allowing all brands to have logo visibility on court, as no company has stepped up with interest in paying the $60 million per season that Li-Ning had been paying. In Guo's case, his individual Li-Ning contract expired before this past season. He decided to play in 2016-17 without a shoe deal and bypass the brand's 90-day exclusive negotiating window, making him free to sign a new deal with the company of his choosing after January of this year. That opened the door for Jordan Brand, which quickly rose to the top of his list of suitors. "Jordan allowed him to be unique in the China market," a source close to Guo says. Much like the most marketable American players, Guo has developed a reputation for standing out off the court, thanks in part to his distinctive hair style, penchant for dressing well and use of social media on the Chinese www.ramsnflofficialproshop.com/WOMENS_YOUTH_JOHNNY_HEKKER_JERSEY.html platform Weibo. Jordan Brand will look to position Guo not only individually throughout China in both basketball and lifestyle campaigns, but also globally alongside its current NBA endorsers. The importance of being the latest member of the storied brand isn't lost on Guo. "When I first played basketball, I'd see Jordan shoes on TV or on other players and loved them," he says. "At the time, we couldn't afford them, so I was always envious of other players that had the shoes. That makes this such a dream come true now." "In the beginning, I just played basketball for fun," Guo says. "I was just a normal kid, but when I was chosen to get on the provincial team in my hometown, I started to think about playing at the professional level and playing hard." At a lean but built 6-foot-4, Guo is often credited most for his work ethic. The repetition has resulted in developing a shifty handle all over the floor, allowing him to attack the rim at will. His 3-point shot and NBA-level set reads are still a work in progress, so he utilized this past offseason to work on individual improvement in the United States. "In China, there's no personal training like the U.S.," Guo says. "We train together as a team, and it's harder to really improve individually like that. The trainers don't really focus on just one person."