New Balance re-entered the basketball scene with a bang when Kawhi Leonard wore the sneaker for the 2019 NBA All-Star game. A year later, New Balance collaborated with the NBA as a strategic partner to enhance its basketball footprint and establish itself in the sneaker market when NBA players signed with New Balance.
There are 13 NBA players wearing New Balance basketball shoes when they play. If you want to know more, follow us as we look into New Balance’s current NBA roster.
How Many NBA Players Are Signed with New Balance?
New Balance hasn’t signed a notable NBA player since the Lakers’ James Worthy in the ‘80s, is returning and making noise in the basketball space. Leading the charge are Kawhi Leonard, Dariius Beazley, Dejounte Murray, Jamal Murray, and Aaron Nesmith playing key roles for the re-emergence of New Balance.
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Kawhi Anthony Leonard
After Leonard’s contract with the Jordan Brand expired, he inked a multi-year sponsorship arrangement with New Balance in November 2018. Several months later, the brand ambassador was wearing his signature shoes, New Balance OMN1S, during the NBA All-Star Weekend. It didn’t stop there. Leonard brought his sponsor to new heights when he gave the Toronto Raptors its first NBA trophy in 2019 against the Golden State Warriors in six games.
Leonard was selected as the 15th overall pick by the Indiana Pacers in 2011 and traded to the San Antonio Spurs on draft night. Playing for seven seasons with the Spurs, he won an NBA championship in 2014 and was named the Finals MVP. In 2018, he was traded to the Toronto Raptors and led the franchise to its first championship and his second Finals MVP in the 2018-2019 NBA season.
Leonard is nicknamed the “Claw” or “Klaw, his credentials include:
- One of three players to win Finals MVP with multiple teams, along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James.
- Acknowledged as one of the league’s greatest players of all-time by being named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.
- Five-time All-Star.
- Three All-NBA First Team selections.
- Seven All-Defensive Team selections.
- Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2015 and 2016.
Darius Denayr Bazley
Outside of Leonard, is Darius Denayr Bazley an elite high school basketball player who decided to say no to college basketball and G-League, but yes to New Balance. Bazley signed an
endorsement deal in October 2018 that included a three-month internship at the brand’s main office in Boston while training on his own for the NBA draft.
He was the 23rd overall pick by the Utah Jazz in the 2019 NBA draft, traded to the Memphis Grizzlies and then to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Dejounte Dashuan Murray
The San Antonio Spurs selected Dejounte Murray as the 29th overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft. He broke Tony Parker’s record, and became the Spurs’ youngest player to score at least 24 points.
On May 5 2017, he started as a point guard, in place of the injured Tony Parker, in Game 3 of their second-round playoff against the Houston Rockets. He helped the Spurs clinch the series and became the Spurs’ fourth rookie to score a point/rebound double-double in a playoff game. Murray joined David Robinson, Tim Duncan, and Kawhi Leonard in the Spurs’ record book.
Jamal Murray played college basketball for one season with the Kentucky Wildcats before the Denver Nuggets drafted him as the seventh overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft.
Things were looking great for the Denver Nuggets until Murray suffered a torn ACL in the fourth quarter of the game against the Golden State Warriors in the 2020-21 season. He brings 21.2 points, 4.8 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game when he plays. Murray was shooting 51 percent from the field and 46 percent from deep. His court generalship has been a vital part of Denver’s success.
With a Murray-less Denver, the Nuggets defeated the Portland Trail Blazers in six games before getting the broom from the Phoenix Suns in the Conference Semi-Finals.
Aaron Joshua Nesmith
Completing the puzzle is Aaron Nesmith, a 14th pick in the first round of the NBA 2020 draft donning the Boston Celtic’s jersey in his rookie year. The injuries and COVID-19 protocols hounding the Celtics from key players gave Nesmith the opportunity to showcase his game. His shooting proficiency, tenacious hustle, and winning attitude earned him the nod of coach Brad Stevens.
From a limited playing time he was included in the rotation, averaging about 20 minutes per game for the rest of the regular season. On April 28, 2021, he put on a show in a won game against the Charlotte Hornets with 15 points, nine rebounds, three steals, and three blocks.
What Athletes are Signed to New Balance?
Companies train their eyes on NBA players whose star is shining or those with the potential to be standouts. These are the players with a large fan base and fans is what the basketball shoe industry is about.
Endorsers should have the traits that represent the goals of the brand. Their meanings and personality of the endorser are transferred to the product in an advertising campaign. Fans who recognize these meanings and personality purchase the endorsed product.
New Balance took a different approach to differentiate from the competition. They went against the normal norms of a brand endorser and focused on strategizing what the competitors doesn’t do that they can.
That’s why Leonard is so important to New balance because it brags it was “Endorsed by No One.” A man of few words and more of action, people understand what Leonard conveys when he points his fingers to his lips and blows a silent “ssshhhhh.” The face of Leonard is enough to endorse the brand.
Unlike, other NBA players, Leonard is an introvert. He doesn’t do social media, is his own man and doesn’t follow anyone, and makes his own decisions which fit New Balance’s slogan of “Fearlessly Independent Since 1906”.
Darius Bazley is one of those NBA players with an extraordinary and different New Balance basketball story. He represents New Balance’s brand campaign “We Got Now.” The time is now to boost culture while creating a positive impact themselves, without permission from anyone.
Bazley’s path to the NBA is one of a kind, he was not afraid to go in a different direction. He said no to college and G-League basketball but yes to New Balance. He got an endorsement deal in 2018 with a three-month internship at New Balance’s main office in Boston. While working as an intern he kept himself in shape to reach his goal of being a first-round draft pick in the NBA.
Things went his way and he was the 23rd pick in the 2019 NBA draft selected by the Utah Jazz and now wearing the jersey of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
8 NBA Players Who Wear New Balance on the Court
Mention basketball shoes and what comes to mind are James’ Nike, Harden’s Adidas, and Steph Curry’s Under Armour. There is also a strong brand recall for New Balance from the fans of Kawhi Leonard.
Since New Balance signed Leonard as an endorser in 2018 there were four NBA players who joined the family; Bazley, D. Murray, J. Murray, Nesmith. And now you can see other NBA players wearing New Balance shoes when they show their stuff on the court. Some of them are:
|Jaylen Brown||Boston Celtics|
|Taurean Prince||Minnesota Timberwolves|
|Zach Levine||Chicago Bulls|
|Willie Cauley-Stein||Dallas Mavericks|
|Mfiondu Kabengele||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|Quinndary Weatherspoon||Golden State Warriors|
|OG Anunoby||Toronto Raptors|
|Terence Davis||Sacramento Kings|
Other New Balance Sponsored Athletes
The signing of Leonard as an endorser is the apex which trickled to strings of successes for New Balance not only in basketball but also in other sports discipline including soccer, baseball, tennis, and skateboarding shoes and apparel.
- Raheem Sterling is an English professional footballer who plays for Manchester City and a three-time Premier League Winner.
- Cori “Coco” Gauff is a 17-year old American professional tennis player. The youngest player listed in the top 100 by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), ranked 17 as of January 2022.
- Rosemary Kathleen Lavelle is an American professional soccer player who was named the sixth best player in the world at The Best FIFA Football Awards 2019. She scored one goal for the U.S. in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on the way to a bronze medal finish.
- José Carlos Altuve is a professional baseball player for the Houston Astros of the Major League Baseball (MLB).
- Sydney Michelle McLaughlin is an American hurdler and sprinter who won the gold in the 400 meters hurdle in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics gold medalist with the current world record of 51.46 seconds.
- Margielyn Arda Didal is a Filipino professional street skateboarder who became known in the X Games Minneapolis 2018 and won a gold medal in the 2018 Asian Games.
- Eugenie “Genie” Bouchard is the first Canadian Tennis player to be ranked in the top 5 in the singles format by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).
Wrapping Things Up: New Balance NBA Players: Who Wears Them On the Court?
Entering the basketball space is easy, more difficult is staying and improving your position.
It will take a gargantuan task to topple basketball shoe leaders Nike and Adidas from their pedestal. New Balance is battling it out with Under Armour, Puma, and Anta for a place behind the leaders.
New Balance is onto a good start by taking baby steps in the right direction. Leonard was a good decision as an endorser in 2018, and the family grew to five members. And now, things are looking great for the company with more NBA players wearing New Balance when they are on the court.
Who knows New Balance might be one of the top tiers in the basketball shoe scene in the near future.
We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.