In an unexpected turn of offseason events, Houston Rockets big man Dwight Howard has spurned his longtime sponsor Adidas to sign an exclusive basketball footwear contract with Peak, a Chinese-based athletic company.
Howard maintains that he has nothing but positive feelings toward his former endorsement partner, but he clearly felt that the possibility of global expansion with the emerging athletic brand was too promising to pass up. Included in the new agreement is a guarantee that Peak will be Howard’s game day shoe of choice at least throughout the 2015-2016 NBA season, and that Howard will be allowed to design his own custom sneakers, which are already nearing completion. Peak is rumored to be the fastest growing shoe company in the world, so Howard will likely be winning big in terms of shoe revenue while his Houston Rockets hope to do so as well with a return to the Western Conference Finals again this season.
Howard has long been a polarizing figure in NBA circles, and leaving an American shoe mainstay for the uncertainty of a new brand and style is likely to further stir up controversy for the Houston center. However, considering Peak has already inked similar deals with Tony Parker and Shane Battier, perhaps the Chinese design house is quickly moving in the right direction in terms of building a brand with recognizable athletes and a distinguished product in the basketball footwear landscape. Howard is arguably their biggest star to date, and with the quick development of basketball markets overseas, I’d wager that he is right to be forward-thinking with his image, even if his detractors will remind him that he should be focused on basketball over a global shoe enterprise. Peak is yet to unveil any new Dwight-based designs, but when they do drop, you can guess one thing: people will absolutely love them or hate them. Being associated with Howard all but guarantees that. Here’s hoping they at least look fresh.