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New Balance Wants a Bigger Stake in the Basketball World

When Kawhi Leonard stepped onto the court for the 2019 NBA All-Star Game, New Balance officially reentered the basketball category with one of the league’s most dominant players.

Late last month, the maker of athletic footwear and apparel announced its new status as an official partner of the league, with rights to market its products and players around the world.

One year on from its entrée into the basketball world, “we are excited to further solidify our position in the global basketball community by collaborating with the NBA as an official long term, strategic partner in order to continue to enhance our position as a leading athletic brand,” New Balance vice president of global marketing Chris Davis said in a statement.

The partnership enables New Balance to place authentic broadcast images and video in its digital and retail content when advertising with its officially sponsored athletes. Considering the NBA now has a global reach, this will allow New Balance to connect its brand more closely with the league at an international scale.

“This relationship ingrains New Balance into the NBA’s global presence, a fandom and culture that transcends sport and is significantly larger than the game of basketball,” Davis added.

These athletes include Darius Bazley of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dejounte Murray of the San Antonio Spurs, in addition to Leonard. Both Bazley and Murray wear the brand’s OMN1S basketball shoes while Kawhi will be sporting his own recently released KAWHI sneakers for the foreseeable future.

“We are excited to welcome New Balance to our family of global partners,” Dan Rossomondo, the NBA’s senior vice president of media and business development, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with New Balance as the brand develops its basketball footprint and continues to establish itself in the market with recent high-profile player signings and new products.”

New Balance isn’t the only brand to see white space in the NBA as performance footwear loses its luster in favor of lifestyle-oriented silhouettes. Puma has also made a play for NBA credibility over the past year, activating innovative holographic displays during the 2020 NBA All-Star Game in Chicago.

New Balance’s first marketing play as an official league partner was broadcast during the Feb. 28 game between Leonard’s Los Angeles Clippers and the Denver Nuggets on ESPN.