Tag Archives: Evan Turner

Dwyane Wade to sign with Li-Ning?

August 19, 2012

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Dwyane Wade looks like he’s set to join Evan Turner at Li-Ning

Is a Chinese shoe company about to sign a major, in-their-prime NBA superstar? Well, if you believe everything you read on Twitter, it certainly sounds like it.

From a dude who knows a thing or two about sneakers, SoleCollector’s Nick DePaula on Friday:

Hearing from several people that Dwyane Wade will likely leave Jordan Brand and sign with Li-Ning. Huge shift.

The news comes after the word that Wade’s current shoe company, Jordan Brand, has cancelled his Fly Wade 3′s and the two sides are reportedly seriously considering a split, with the eight-time All-Star contemplating a switch to Li-Ning.

This isn’t the first time Li-Ning has dipped its toes into the NBA waters. Former and current endorsers include Shaquille O’Neal, Jose Calderon, Baron Davis, Evan Turner and Hasheem Thabeet. It would be the first time, however, that Li-Ning, or any one of the other Chinese sneaker companies (Peak, Anta, 361 Degrees, Qiaodan) would be able to secure a player of Wade’s pedigree.

For a brand that’s been struggling as of late, the addition of Wade may be what it needs to move past what has been a rocky and unprofitable period.

After the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Li-Ning aggressively expanded into the American market, opening an office in Portland, Oregon. But, their ambitions failed to come to fruition as a partnership with Champs Sports ultimately fell through as did plans for retail stores across the United States. As a result, net profit dropped 65% in 2011 and the company was forced to close down its Portland office last February. The company has since relocated to Chicago, where they are in the process of building a strategy that will focus on e-commerce over retail.

Apparently, that strategy built around a top-10 NBA player as well. Wade, although not an elite sneaker seller, still commands respect in the American shoe market and would increase Li-Ning’s credibility among consumers in the American market. In China, he’s a clear second behind LeBron James in the Miami Heat pecking order, but Wade is still a huge name out here and an agreement with Li-Ning would certainly generate some buzz in the PRC. He’s put in work over in the Chinese market over the last few years, coming over to travel the country on summer promotional tours with Brand Jordan. His name has further been enhanced in China from starring on the 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medal American squad.

For Wade, a move to Li-Ning could be more lucrative than sticking with Nike, who has James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant all overshadowing him as the brand’s centerpieces. Things would obviously be much different at Li-Ning, where he’d immediately become the front guy for a company based in the fastest growing market in the world. With the Heat threatening to build a dynasty, Wade — and his new kicks — would be in the forefront of a market that some people stands to make another shoe company, Nike, US $4 billion in revenue off of the team’s “not one, not two, not three, not four…” potential championships.

Since entering the NBA in 2003, Wade has been with Nike subsidiary, Converse, and Jordan Brand , the latter of which he has been with since 2009. His deal with Jordan is worth a reported US $10 million a year.

Wade’s potential signing marks another major event in what has been a busy and expensive summer for Li-Ning. In the Chinese basketball world, the company just recently paid CNY 2 billion to become the official outfitter of the Chinese Basketball Association. The deal starts this season and will last through the next five.

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Chinese shoe companies: A case of too much, too soon?

July 26, 2011

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“Over-expanding” in an effort to compete inside of a crowded Chinese shoe market has resulted in a sharp overall downturn for China’s athletic apparel industry.

The expansion of Chinese athletic apparel brands has been an easy trend to spot for basketball fans both in the United States and in China. Over the last few summers, there have been a number of high-profile NBA players who have signed lucrative endorsement deals with China-based companies in order to directly tap into the world’s second biggest basketball market. Li Ning has Evan Turner and Baron Davis; Anta has Kevin Garnett and Luis Scola; Peak features Jason Kidd, Shane Battier and JaVale McGee, all of whom have signature shoe lines and television spots.

Adding players, which in turn add credibility, is key for these ambitious brands: With 2.6 billion Chinese feet that can potentially be fitted for sneakers, and an economy that sees consumer spending power rise steadily each year, there’s a lot of money to potentially be made. Competition between Chinese shoe companies is thus quite fierce and to gain an edge, brands have expanded aggressively. In China, companies have been opening hosts of new retail locations and filling them to the brim with merchandise. In the United States, Li Ning opened its first store outside Asia in Portland, Oregon in 2010, and quickly tripled in size after an encouraging start. Peak has a U.S.-based headquarters in Los Angeles, and has an online shop for American customers to buy their products.

But, instead of one company separating itself from the rest, it appears as if the entire industry is headed for a bust due to over-spending and over-stretching its means. According to a report published yesterday by MarketWatch, experts are seeing a rocky future for Li Ning, Anta and Peak, as well as a host of other smaller companies, whose rapid expansion “is beginning to cause cannibalization of sales and [a] price war,” according to UOB KayHian analyst Ken Lee.

Lee goes on to explain what went wrong:

The problem, Lee said, can be traced back to the initial-public-offering boom in Hong Kong during recent years, when mainland Chinese consumer-related themes were able to raise funds easily to fuel ambitious growth plans.

For example, Peak Sport Products Co. HK:1968 +1.54%PSPRF +5.46% — which signed U.S. basketball star Jason Kidd and other top athletes to represent its line of apparel — was able to raise $224 million in a September 2009 listing, pledging to use the funds for product development and to expand its retail sales network in China.

Likewise, apparel group 361 Degrees International HK:1361 -1.84%TSIOF -1.85% was able to raise $231 million as part of its offer, which debuted in June 2009. Promoters said the company would benefit from sportswear spending, expected to rise at a 30% annualized rate for years.

But what followed, says Lee, was a retailing arms race that outpaced consumer spending power.

The news comes on the heels of Li Ning’s disappointing sales in the U.S. after two quarters. Adding to the grey weather, plans to hook up with Champs Sports, which would have given the company a long reach into the American market, have been squashed.

In our humble (and rather basic, we don’t pretend to be market experts) opinion though, there is still some optimism for Chinese sneakers. According to the report, Chinese spending power has increased 30% for the last several years. That’s an important aspect to keep in mind here: spending power will keep going up, which means the potential market is only going to get bigger and bigger. As a high up American shoe company executive once told me, the race for Chinese feet is being set-up to be won five years from now. This could be a permanent thing, but it could also just be capitalistic Darwinism – a survival of the fittest that is to be eventually won later this decade.

Though the news short-term may not be so rosy for companies, there is good news for consumers — huge, huge sales.

A recent visit to some of these stores revealed product markdowns of 50% to 90%, or even two-for-one promotions on summer wear.

“We have never seen such deep and prevalent discounting,” said Lee, whose retail survey in June took him to six cities around the Chinese mainland.

If it weren’t for our size 13 feet, we’d be all over it. Maybe in five years, one of these brands will get some bigger shoes in their Beijing stores.

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Li Ning’s newest Evan Turner promotion: Win a RoboDoll, learn Chinese player tendencies

April 1, 2011

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Over the 24 and a half years of my life, I’ve played a crapload of basketball.  And as somebody who has lived in China for almost three years, I’ve also played a crapload of basketball against against every imaginable type of Chinese competition.  Farmers, professional streetball teams, college teams, students, teachers, professional youth players, company men… I’ve literally seen it all out here.

Mostly, I’ve seen it all through the lens of outdoor four-on-four half-court, the standard format for pick-up basketball in the People’s Republic.  As I’ve found my happy place with consistently acceptable indoor run in Beijing, I don’t play that anymore.  It’s another post for another day, but I feel like I’ve successfully accomplished everything there is out on the half-court and luckily, I’ve come out relatively unscathed and uninjured.

But fortunately for you, that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten my Chinese basketball roots, or the tricks that I’ve picked up over the years.

To celebrate their new Evan Turner RoboDolls, Li Ning is holding a “Defend and Conquer” promotion asking people to write in their their favored ways of scoring the rock and defending their opponents when playing basketball.  The best answers will receive an “Evan Turner limited edition doll.”

I figure that since Li Ning is posting up people’s answers for all to see on Sina Weibo, this would be a good time to pass along what wisdom I’ve attained to people who haven’t yet retired from four-on-four — those who are still reaching for mastery of the sport.

So if you’re just itching to get back out there onto the outdoor courts this spring, study up and take these little tips into your next game.

When you catch the ball, what is your favorite move to break loose and score?

爱静静2011: Offensive methods: Drive in for a lay-up, step-back jumper

我爱我车微博: Offense I’m best at midrange, hook shots

Godsboy: My most skilled methods on offense are: Pick and roll, back-to-basket isolation, turnaround jumpshots

sendymylove: Offense my best thing is shooting from midrange and playing under the basket

Since the vast majority of Chinese you’ll run into on an outdoor court can’t pitch a five mao coin into HouHai lake if they were riding in a boat, you’ll likely be playing most of your defense a good two feet away from your opponent. There’s a great deal of academic pressure placed on Chinese kids from an early age.  Instead of getting involved with youth sports, parents place their kids in extra math, Chinese or English classes after school and on the weekends, so there’s no opportunity for Chinese youth to receive any form of coaching.

The on-court result of that reality, of course, is an absolute lack of fundamentals, especially when it comes to shooting. Also, as any foreigner who has casually shot around on a court in China with other people quickly realizes, the Western concept of “courtesy” (if you make a shot, you get another one) doesn’t exist in this country.  So improving your shooting, which is a rhythmical and repetition based action, can be a tough task here because you’re never going to get the chance to sink more than one shot at a time.

Thus, the Chinese learn from watching.  And since you can watch up to three NBA games on a weekend morning, there’s lots of opportunities to pick up moves from your favorite superstar.  Since nobody can shoot, that means players generally focus on shifty guards who can break off their opponent and get into the paint off the dribble.

That makes defending guys out here pretty easy.  If they’re at the top of the key or on either wing, its a crossover into the lane.  If they’re cut off, they’ll almost always counter with a spin-move combined with finger roll/hook shot finish. Also be wary of the short to mid-range pull-up jumper with funky releases — a lot of guys out here can jump pretty well off two feet and if you’re not careful to tighten up your space once they put the ball on the floor, you’re going to have a lot of points scored in your eye.

Another thing to be aware of: If a player is driving baseline, he is always, always, always going to a reverse lay-up finish.  Stay conscience of that and jump to the other side of the backboard, and you’ll always, always, always get at least one pin-block per outing.

Bigger, taller players prefer to play with their back to the basket.  And since they have no fundamentals either, they’re not going to try and beat you with footwork.  They’ll just try to run you over Mengke Batter style.  Pulling out the chair works for defending the impatient post-players, but mostly making them work for their position, denying over the top and generally being annoying will frustrate them into making mistakes.

When you’re on defense, what is your favorite method to stop your opponent?

bbigg: I don’t have any strategy, I just death-guard them.

刘星伶2010: My best thing in defense is killing my opponent  haha

MrChild勋: Best thing in defense and offense is killing people!

探炫: Playing real close to my man, double teaming under the hoop

Noticing a pattern here?  Defense in China is all upper-body; hands, forearms, elbows and shoulders, and its all done in order to… well kill you.

But when a 6-4 waiguoren steps onto the court, defenses that were already aimed at ripping off the heads of their opponents become even more physical.  And once that 6-4 waiguoren starts dropping buckets from all over the court, that’s when they actually attempt to try and kill you.  And that’s when we run into sometimes irreconcilable problems that sometimes end in near fisticuffs.  Now might be a good time to mention I grew up idolizing Alonzo Mourning.

But, have no fear.  Hundreds of hours on outdoor basketball courts have taught me valuable moves and counter-moves to protect myself against murderous opponents.  Since the Chinese — who again, have not been taught the fundaments of the game — are completely averse to the idea of flexing the knees and moving the feet on the defensive end (anyone who watches the national team knows that to be true on every level of Chinese basketball), playground defensive tactics typically involve extending one’s arm and impeding offensive progress via various WWF wrestling moves, like the clothesline, the flying elbow and the sleeper hold.

The latter in particular is used almost exclusively when guarding against the player with his back to the basket.  Instead of fronting, playing three-quarters or chesting up to the offensive player and sliding the feet, Chinese defenders typically resort to just bear hugging you either to prevent a clean target from being presented to the passer or from getting a clean shot off once you’ve caught the ball.

So what to do?  Getting good looks down low starts with getting good position off the ball.  Violently throw your arms up — not down — to break free from captivity to open up your defender’s midsection.  Once you’re out of his grip, nail him with an elbow to his wide-open ribs/stomach, catch the ball and go to work.  Rinse and repeat until defenders get the idea.

Good luck.

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