While “Linsanity” was long ago, Jeremy Lin has continued to steadily improve and establish himself as a starting point in his seventh season. With a legion of fans globally that has followed his journey, Lin has extended that six-week splash in 2012 into a lengthy career, strategically building a measured global brand.
As his second season with the Houston Rockets was getting underway in 2013, Lin was set to become a sneaker free agent for the first time in his career. His deal with Nike was slated to expire, offering the chance to sign his most lucrative endorsement deal. China-based brand Li-Ning desperately wanted to sign him, and Nike was looking to utilize its contract “match rights” to a certain threshold. But it was adidas that made the strongest play, landing Lin with the highest investment and a platform to create.
Adidas offered a footwear and apparel endorsement deal worth $3 million annually for five years, sources told The Vertical, which was on par with several of the game’s top non-signature All-Stars. It would also guarantee Lin international marketing, product input, basketball camps, appearance tours and special releases in Asia.
“I just wanted to go with a company that really represented my style and my personality. Adidas really gave me the opportunity to be creative,” Lin told The Vertical. “They also showed that they really cared about who I was as a player, and when they do that, it makes the stories, the shoes and what they design more powerful and have more meaning.”
From the onset, Lin dove into the products the brand offered and looked to add his own spin with custom colors, textures and his “JL7″ logo. He signed on during a bit of a transitional stage, with adidas shifting strategies and launching new designs and technology. “Back then, adidas wasn’t exactly the same as it is today,” Lin told The Vertical. “They’ve grown so much, but they had shown me some of the stuff that was coming out and some of their plans, and I was just really, really excited for what they were going to do.”
As the two sides grew more familiar, Lin began to bring even more ideas for his game shoes. Beyond just incorporating the clean white and black tones of the Brooklyn Nets’ uniform, he also wanted to highlight a deeper story this season, one with a specific theme he had in mind.
“I had seen a shoe years ago, and I couldn’t even find a picture of it and I don’t even remember what it was about,” Lin, 28, told The Vertical. “I just remember seeing a shoe with a lot of text inscriptions on it, and it looked almost like an ancient text. I remember thinking to myself, ‘I want to do something like that, but I want it to be about my family.’ ”
With that in mind, the adidas Basketball team began to work on a personalized edition of their new Crazylight Boost model, a low-top shoe that Lin has worn throughout this season that features his preferred Boost cushioning material. Lin’s parents, Gie-Ming and Shirley; his brothers, Joshua and Joseph; and his sister-in-law, Patricia, are included in the inscriptions.
Having his family featured in the all-over printed graphic atop his size 11.5 shoes has given Lin an extra sense of pride this year.
Lin shares with The Vertical what each of his family members have meant to him:
Gie-Ming and Shirley: “My dad is the one who introduced me to the game. He loves the game, and if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be playing. She was the one who was always driving me to every single game and every single practice. She was always the ‘team mom’ and was always the most diehard parent supporter. My dad would come to my games and record all of them. In general, both of them being Asian-American immigrant parents, letting your kid play basketball and the amount that they let us play was a big deal. The amount of money they put forth so that we could play, they were kind of getting ridiculed by other parents. There was social pressure to tell us to stop, and it was a very real thing. My mom actually created a team and a new branch of the basketball organization in the city we were in. They just saw how happy it made us.”
Joshua and Joseph: “My brothers, we played together for hours every day. Hours and hours. Sometimes we’d play from 3 to 7 after school. We’d just play for so long, and it could be at the park, the backyard or the YMCA, it didn’t matter where. They’re my best friends. I’m super close to them to this day, and I train with them every summer. My little brother, Joseph, is a pro player [playing for the Fubon Braves in Taiwan, where he was named Rookie of the Year]. Whenever my other brother is in town, he comes to train with us, too. Basketball has been one of the uniting factors for us ever since we were growing up.”
Patricia: “Patricia is my sister-in-law and married to my older brother, Josh. She kind of got thrown into the mix just by marriage and didn’t know what was happening. That was the summer before Linsanity happened. Her and my brother’s couch was the one that I was sleeping on for six weeks when everything happened later that season. She didn’t know what was going on, and I just needed help at that time because things were so hectic. She came and helped and has such a bright brain and totally understands a lot of the off-the-court stuff. Since then, she’s been my manager. Because of what she knows and the way she pushes me, it’s been really valuable. She’s been my manager ever since and has been a huge part of everything that I do off the court.”
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