by Brandon Richard
During All-Star Weekend, Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson announced an endorsement deal with Chinese sneaker company ANTA. He debuted the KT Fire sneaker in the showcase and has been laced up in the model for the second half of the season — until last night.
While taking on the visiting Milwaukee Bucks, Thompson was spotted playing in a pair of his old Nike Hyperdunk 2014 PEs. To appease his partners in China (and his bank account), Thompson blacked out the Swoosh logos on the quarter panels.
The likely situation here is an issue with comfort and sizing. Most NBA players wear sneakers with custom built orthotics and participate in product development. Fresh off his Nike deal, Thompson hasn't yet had a full summer to travel to China and work with the ANTA team. Brandmate Rajon Rondo also briefly went back to wearing Nike before settling in his ANTA shoes after signing a deal with the company in late 2013.
Chinese companies have proven to be more lenient in letting players wear shoes from rival brands. In 2011, Steve Nash famously played in Nike, despite signing a multi-year deal with upstart Luyou. A similar relationship exists between 361 and Kevin Love. It's hard to imagine brands like Nike and adidas ever extending the same courtesy.