Kawhi Leonard – The Klaw, Terminator, Robot. Dwayne Wade once said Kawhi never talks smack during the playoffs. He is a top 5 player, arguably the best in the playoffs this year. A superstar that doesn’t act like a superstar outwardly. He doesn’t do commercials like Curry, Lebron, Harden, or the Hulu Has Live Sports team. I can’t think of any Kawhi commercials. He’s the silent assassin who lets his actions on the court do the talking. Kawhi left a 4 year, 22 million extension with Jordan brand on the table to go with New Balance. A brand famous for their lack of branding – gaining customers through comfort and practicality. This is the brand that Kawhi decided to go with. When this happened, people reacted saying things like he’s boring, so he might as well go with a boring brand.
Kawhi is a top player, potential finals MVP, so I have to ask – what the hell, New Balance? You have an athlete playing in the finals and his shoes are no where to be found. Allegedly the shoe will be available in November, after the new Lebrons, Currys, and Kyries will be released. You take a signature athlete, who may not be on the same team next year, someone not known for being flashy or having any footprint on social media, and you release the shoe later in the year. You have a limited release that is immediately sold out. The people making the real money are those selling them second hand off other websites like Stockx (currently going for almost $900). I see a lot of signature shoes around, but nothing for Kawhi. Explain that? Right now you have an entire country behind Kawhi. Imagine having the market from an entire country who is eager to show their love for Kawhi in hopes he may stay. If Toronto does win and if Kawhi does take finals MVP, then what? Is New Balance okay with this missed opportunity? You have one basketball shoe and no one can buy it. Doesn’t seem to be the best strategy.
New Balance, a company new to the signature basketball shoe space, using an athlete not known for being overly brandable, they are not in a place to make mistakes. Right now they have the opportunity to have easy marketing campaign with an entire country backing their star, Kawhi. For their first athlete, they would have had it made, yet here they are missing a golden opportunity.