Coming into this season, Guo Ailun had a definite target on his back. As the first international basketball player to have his own Jordan Brand signature shoe, the eyes of a nation were firmly set on him. Ailun is the starting point guard for the CBA’s (Chinese Basketball Association) Liaoning Flying Leopards and they currently have the best record in the league at 12-3. His averages of 17/4/4 are respectable enough to quiet the naysayers for now, but that’s only for now. Ailun left Li-Ning to become the first CBA player singed to JB and at the young age of 23 is expected to be a star.
For Jordan Brand it’s their latest endeavor into the Asian market. A market that has been a fertile and lucrative market for all the major brands (and even the lesser brands if we’re being honest) since the start of the 21st Century. The 2008 Beijing Olympics only strengthened the connection and now brands cannot compete unless they have a presence in this market. In the US, the idea that big men don’t sell shoes still has merit.
But guards do sell shoes and JB wouldn’t have invested in Ailun to the reported tune of 3 million per year if they didn’t think it was a worthwhile venture. At 6’4 with combo guard abilities, the hope is that his rise coincides with the next generation of Chinese basketball fans. Jordan Brand is already well entrenched here, so it’s not they need a major win to qualify as a success. But with a billion plus people watching their latest endorser, this can pave the way for future stars in this league in case Ailun starts itching for NBA exposure. Either way, it’s an ambitious move for JB as they continue to retain their relevancy in a tough sneaker market.
If you’re looking for any other basketball endorsed shoes by a Chinese brand, check out Trailblazer guard CJ McCollum’s sneaker right here.