Tennis legend Yannick Noah, somewhat famously, outfitted himself in Le Coq Sportif footwear during his celebrated career. This is why it made complete and total sense his adoring son, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, would sign the first endorsement deal with the iconic French brand upon entering the NBA in 2007. For years, Noah loped up and down the court in the (relative to the NBA) obscure line of unique shoes, developing into an All-Star and beloved Chicago sports icon along the way.
Noah’s career was sent into a tizzy in 2012-13, though, when a painful case of plantar fasciitis derailed his season. Though many rightfully criticized Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau for overworking the big man (who had suffered from the foot ailment before) for 40 minutes again during the first half of the season, Noah found culprit in another source. He blamed the shoes, and he’s also blaming Le Coq Sportif for allegedly not paying him what he was supposed to be handed as part of his six-year, $6 million deal.
TMZ is reporting that Noah and Le Coq Sportif are now suing each other, after a partnership gone wrong:
Noah quietly declared war on the French company in a D.C. court back in November ... claiming LCS signed him to a 6-year $6 million deal back in 2007, only to screw him out of more than $1.65 million.
In the suit, Noah says he was pumped about the deal at first -- but shortly after he signed, LCS shut down its U.S. offices, fired the guy who signed Noah and started looking for ways to back out of the deal. Noah claims things came to a head in 2013 when they suddenly stopped paying him money he believed they were obligated to pay.
Noah says despite the negative energy, he held up his end of the bargain -- and wore Le Coq shoes in every NBA game he played even though he claims they were "not well designed and likely contributed to [my] development of plantar fasciitis."
Joakim’s suit mentions the missed 2012-13 games – 16 in total, including several pained contests in which he clearly should not have been playing, much to the consternation of those who have a dim view of Chicago’s medical staff – in the suit.
As you can see above, these are cool-looking shoes, but they also trend toward the designer brand end of things. It was just fine for centers from a different era to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court in relatively skinflint footwear, but the NBA’s modern player needs different shoes because of players like Noah – nearly 7-foot big men who run unendingly while showcasing spectacular all-around gifts that go beyond a mere drop-step and/or hook shot.
Credit whatever you want – luck, improved preparation, fewer minutes per game or Noah’s new endorsement deal with Adidas – but Joakim has had nary a speck of reported pain in his doggies during 2013-14, at least not the kind that would cause him to miss significant time. That, and a possible paucity of Noah-bound checks from Le Coq Sportif’s payroll department, might spell bad news for the company.
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