Slam-dunk in China

Klay Thomp­son of Golden State War­riors does full-court press across six cities

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By XU JINGXI in Guangzhou xu­jingxi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Vis­it­ing six cities in nine days, Golden State War­riors star Klay Thomp­son’s re­cent tour of China proved a huge hit with fans, and pro­vided Chi­nese sports­wear brand Anta with a mas­sive shot in the arm in its bat­tle with Nike.

The NBA All-Star has just signed a 10-year ex­ten­sion with Anta.

That rich deal would pro­pel the 27-year-old shoot­ing guard into the top 10 high­est-earn­ing sneaker en­dorsers in the NBA, ac­cord­ing to Nice­kicks.com.

Anta be­lieves he’s worth ev­ery cent fol­low­ing his stand­out per­for­mances in the War­riors’ NBA ti­tle-win­ning run last month and the “Klay-ma­nia” gen­er­ated by his China tour.

The Fu­jian-based com­pany has sold more than 400,000 pairs of the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion of Thomp­son’s sig­na­ture sneaker, KT2, since it was launched in Oc­to­ber 2015.

Thomp­son, who ini­tially signed with Anta in 2014, is the most searched key­word on Anta’s web­site.

“I want Anta to be very pop­u­lar in the bas­ket­ball world, not only in China but also glob­ally,” Thomp­son told China Daily.

“I want Anta to be known as the cool brand for the kids — which I think it’s on its way to be­com­ing. With our part­ner­ship, I re­ally think we can get there.”

Thomp­son told Nice­kicks.com he hopes to be­come the “Michael Jor­dan of Anta”, and his so­cial me­dia stats show that’s not out of reach.

“Shock the Game”, the slo­gan of his pro­mo­tional tour, had at­tracted over 78 mil­lion reads and 28,000 comments on Sina Weibo by Thurs­day, while more than 30 mil­lion Sina Weibo users watched events on the tour live.

Off the court, Thomp­son is known for his quiet and unas­sum­ing per­sona, pre­fer-

It was em­bar­rass­ing ... but it was funny. It made for a good laugh.” Klay Thomp­son, on miss­ing six dunks in a row in Chengdu

ring to flee the bed­lam of the post-game hordes as quickly as pos­si­ble to play with his pet dog at home.

How­ever, dur­ing his China trip, fans wit­nessed a more out­go­ing Thomp­son.

Be­sides shoot­ing hoops with the lo­cals, he sam­pled “smelly tofu” in Changsha, Hu­nan prov­ince, tried out bike-shar­ing and joined a group of pen­sion­ers for a spir­ited round of guangchangwu (square danc­ing) in Shenyang, Liaon­ing prov­ince.

The most tweeted mo­ment of his tour, how­ever, was a clip of him miss­ing six dunks in a row in Chengdu. The video went vi­ral in both China and the US.

“It was em­bar­rass­ing ... but it was funny. It made for a good laugh,” Thomp­son said. “I’m a shooter, and I’ve never been known as a good dunker like Vince Carter or Kobe Bryant. But you can’t let that dis­cour­age you, just keep try­ing.

“Thank God, I was able to do it in the next city.”

Anta was un­der­stand­ably thrilled with the ex­po­sure.

“Klay is an in­spir­ing fig­ure to young bas­ket­ball fans be­cause he is al­ways will­ing to take chal­lenges and show a strong team spirit,” said James Zheng, pres­i­dent and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Anta.

“Hav­ing a part­ner­ship with star play­ers is vi­tal to pro­mot­ing a sports­wear brand. Anta’s goal is to sur­pass Nike as the No 1 bas­ket­ball prod­ucts brand in the Chi­nese mar­ket, and Klay will play an im­por­tant role in help­ing us achieve that.”

Thomp­son rides a shar­ing bi­cy­cle and is fol­lowed by hordes of fans on his way to a pro­mo­tional event in Shenyang, Liaon­ing prov­ince, on June 26.

PHOTOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Golden State War­riors su­per­star Klay Thomp­son takes on Chi­nese play­ers dur­ing his ‘Shock the Game’ China tour in Guangzhou, Guang­dong prov­ince, on July 1.

NBA cham­pion Thomp­son high-fives a young fan in Shen­zhen, Guang­dong prov­ince, on July 2.

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