Under Armour deal makes Embiid richest center

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Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid has signed a five-year footwear and apparel endorsement deal with Under Armour.

The average annual value of the deal is expected to make the 7-foot All-Star the highest-paid player at his position, industry sources told ESPN.

Embiid’s status as a big man didn’t appear to slow the sizable offers from several brands that made him this year’s most coveted sneaker free agent.

“There’s a stereotype about big men that [we] can’t sell shoes. When I look at myself, I’m not a big man; I’m a guard,” Embiid said with a smile. “I can do everything on the basketball court. You can name it — pass, post up, shoot the ball, bring the ball up, being a playmaker. So I’m excited to break that stereotype. I can’t wait to do so much more with Under Armour.”

Embiid submitted his signed offer sheet on Sept. 28, after the 76ers’ annual media day session had concluded. It was at media day that he was first spotted wearing the new Under Armour HOVR Havoc sneaker, which he has worn throughout the preseason.

His prior brand, Adidas, had up to 10 business days to exercise its standard “match clause” rights on the Under Armour offer sheet, but the company moved quickly and had notified Embiid and his CAA representatives by the following morning that it would decline to match.

“When I sat down with Under Armour, one of the first things we talked about was how this can be bigger than just shoes, bigger than just basketball,” Embiid wrote in a first-person account, detailing how his life changed when he was invited to Luc Mbah a Moute‘s basketball camp in Cameroon. “I want to help change people’s lives like Luc changed my life.

“Basketball has given me everything, but it has to be bigger than basketball. That was the first thing that I said to Under Armour, and they were behind it 100 percent. This isn’t about a shoe deal. I mean, listen … I’m gonna make sure they design some shoes as pretty as I am. Don’t worry about that. We’re gonna take care of that. But this is bigger than that. I want to use this partnership to do something real.”

Embiid wrote that he wants “to do something that would make my brother proud.” His brother, Arthur, was killed in a car accident in Cameroon a few months after Embiid was drafted.

Embiid, 24, was also heavily courted by Puma and New Balance over the past month, but he keyed in on Under Armour as being his preferred destination early in the process. After averaging 23 points and 11 rebounds per game during his second season for a rising 76ers team that finished third in the Eastern Conference, Embiid emerged as the most sought after sneaker free agent of the fall.

In addition to the landmark financial offer, the Baltimore-based brand impressed Embiid with its dedicated resources to building him custom-made footwear, additional charity commitments for the Philadelphia region and his homeland in Cameroon, and the potential to receive his own capsule releases of branded footwear and apparel.

Embiid joins an Under Armour roster that includes Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper.



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