Outspoken (and slightly above average) Cleveland Cavaliers guard Damon Jones made history this week, becoming the first active American NBA player to sign an endorsement deal with a Chinese sports apparel brand. Li Ning, one of China’s leading sports brands, signed Jones to a two-year deal, details of which were not disclosed. Jones has worn Li Ning’s “Feijia” sneakers for most of this season.
Some — especially those who drafted him for their fantasy teams — might say using the term “active” in association with Jones would be a stretch. After establishing himself as one of the league’s more reliable 3-point shooters last year with the Miami Heat, Jones has been a disappointment with the Cavs, who signed the 29-year-old to a four-year, $16 million deal during the offseason. So far this season, Jones is averaging just 7.7 points per game while shooting an unimpressive .372 from behind the 3-point arc.
Jones, hower, is one of the league leaders in outlandish statements. This season alone he has called himself the “black Brad Pitt” and the best 3-point shooter on the planet (and No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4). Here are some of his gems regarding the Li Ning deal:
“I got billboards all over China. I got wax sculptures. I’m an icon. I’m global. Who’s that global around here, except LeBron James?” — AP
“It was a situation where I didn’t have a shoe contract coming into the year, and I was searching around, and I felt that being different, as I am, I thought it would be a good move to market myself in a different light. They felt with my personality and my glamorous looks that I could bring a little pop to the brand.” — The Plain Dealer
“The Li Ning products, with oriental culture, make me unusual in the NBA court.” — Xinhua
Athletics, a Fujian-based sports apparel company signed former NBA star Clyde Drexler as a spokesperson last year, several years after he had retired.