John Wall leaving Reebok for Adidas

January 9, 2013
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John Wall is moving on from Reebok. (Matt McClain for The Washington Post)

John Wall’s relationship with Reebok goes back to when he propelled to stardom after a stellar performance at a high school basketball camp sponsored by the shoe company. Wall later signed a five-year deal worth a reported $25 million with Reebok before the Wizards drafted him No. 1 overall in June 2010.

But the union has come to end, Wall acknowledged after Wednesday’s practice at Verizon Center, where he was spotted wearing a pair of red Adidas high tops. The decision to part ways comes only a few months after Reebok released Wall’s third signature basketball shoe.

Wall has been wearing Adidas sneakers in practice this week as he prepares to make his season debut on Saturday after missing the first 33 games with a stress injury in his left knee. After practice, Wall left the impression that nothing is settled with regards to his footwear going forward. “I may try a couple” different shoes, Wall said. “I’m on display again.”

But only a few hours later, Adidas issued a statement announcing a new partnership with Wall and Reebok also issued a statement that confirmed his split from the brand that used Wall as its primary basketball spokesperson the past 2½ years.

“I’ve enjoyed my time with Reebok and I’m grateful for everything we accomplished the last few years,” Wall said in the statement. “Now, I’m excited to return to the court soon and begin my new partnership with adidas. They’ve changed the game with new technology and style and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”.

Adidas has owned the Reebok brand since 2005 but Wall now joins a three stripe roster that currently includes Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard and Ricky Rubio. Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III also wears Adidas apparel.

“John Wall is a great talent and his quickness, superior athleticism and personality make him one of the most exciting young players in the game,” said Lawrence Norman, adidas vice president of global basketball. “We’re excited to partner with John to continue to develop new innovative products and grow our brand and business.” 

The structure of Wall’s deal with Adidas was not released. Wall missed 13 games as a rookie in his first season wearing Reeboks, when rumors swirled about his shoes contributing to an assortment of injuries to his foot and knees. He played in all 66 games of the lockout-shortened last season but his third season has been delayed because of more knee complications.

Reebok created a new marketing campaign last November centered around Wall’s North Carolina roots and shot a commercial in his hometown of Raleigh. Wall expressed some excitement over his signature Season 3 ZigEscape sneakers last October.

“You wouldn’t think you’d be in a situation where you have your own shoe, or anything like that,” Wall said back then. “It’s still kind of shocking, a dream come true, to be in this situation.”

Reebok made clear that it was not abandoning its basketball division, despite reports to the contrary, but it is also moving on from Wall.

“John is a tremendous player and person, and has been a great representative of the Reebok brand.  We wish him all the best. He is in good hands with adidas,” Todd Krinsky, head of Reebok classics and basketball, said in a statement. “Basketball remains an important category for Reebok. We have a long and very successful heritage in the sport, which provides us with a unique point of view and place in the category.  In the near future, we will announce new additions to our basketball roster, who we feel best represent the direction our style-driven performance basketball business. We’re looking at athletes who are unique in their approach to style, their game and their life in general.”

Wall’s third season will mark a new direction for him. And he will take those steps in some new shoes. “What does it take to make it?” Wall asks in his latest Reebok commercial. “I’ll let you know when I get there.”

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.
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Michael Lee · January 9, 2013

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