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Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid is signing with Under Armour, sources told Yahoo Sports, with the endorsement deal expected to be finalized Wednesday. Embiid appears ready to test the theory that the NBA’s tallest stars can’t sell shoes.
Embiid is entering his fifth season with the 76ers — his third actually playing — after being selected No. 3 overall in the 2014 NBA draft. Embiid’s unique skill set and social-media presence — particularly on Twitter and Instagram — have made him one of the NBA’s most marketable and popular stars.
The move by Under Armour gives the shoe company, which has been hurt by a declining stock price in recent years, a co-star at the highest levels of the NBA to go along with Steph Curry.
The move doesn’t come as a complete surprise to the sneakerheads that follow the industry closely, as Embiid was considered the top sneaker free agent on the market.
Embiid has been spotted wearing Under Armour shoes this preseason, including at 76ers media day. He told ESPN about his desire to have a signature shoe while the Sixers were in China recently: “A lot of people, you know, always have that notion [that] big men can’t sell shoes. When I look at myself … I’m more than a big man. So as far as signature shoes, I’m excited to come and break that.”
Embiid missed his first two seasons in the NBA with injuries. He averaged 22.9 points and 11 rebounds per game last year, but those statistics fail to show his reach as he has 2.9 million Instagram followers and 1.5 million Twitter followers.
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