Slam-dunk in China
Klay Thompson of Golden State Warriors does full-court press across six cities
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.
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.