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Zach LaVine: The Newest Face of New Balance

The Chicago Bulls star gives Boardroom the inside story on his sneaker decision and what fans can expect in the years to come.

After going through the shoe deal process heading into the NBA Draft in 2014, then sorting through a series of endorsement offers again in 2017 after his third season, Zach LaVine developed an approach to deciding on how to decide which brand would best fit him. 

“The more and more you start learning about the business, it just can’t all be about checks and ‘Pay me to do this,” he said. “You really want to be able to partner with somebody that is invested in you and you guys can partner together.”

With his prior Adidas deal expiring this past Oct. 1, the Bulls wing received a series of offers from brands both in China and the US.

“Being a shoe free agent is really fun,” he continued. “You’re able to go out there and experience different brands, align and try to figure out what works for you. I feel like this time was a little different, going around for a second time [as a veteran] and being able to find something that I really truly enjoyed being partnered with.” 

Throughout the process, as brands came in with multi-million dollar offers and Anta even presented a 16-page “ZL1” signature shoe deck over Zoom, New Balance emerged as LaVine’s preferred fit.  

“Being upfront and very trustworthy,” he said of New Balance’s appeal. “They were somebody that tells you what they want and what they saw in me.”

What the brand wants is for the 27-year-old to headline its new Two Wxy 2 hoop shoe on the court as he makes his first appearance in the NBA Playoffs this spring.

Off the court, he’ll be rocking the 550 lifestyle shoe, along with a series of designer collabs with the likes of Aime Leon Dore, Salehe Bembury, and Chicago’s own Joe Fresh Goods.

“Something that I liked with them is they allowed me to be myself and be creative. That means a lot,” he smiled. “To be wanted by a brand such as New Balance with a great history and such a cultural influence right now going on, I think it worked out perfect.”

LaVine’s All-Star Weekend rotation of New Balances. (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)

Looking ahead, LaVine leaves a trail of two brands that account for over 80% of NBA players in Nike and Adidas, for a company that just recently relaunched its basketball category in 2018 and now boasts a select group of just six endorsers. 

“I’m not scared to do something different,” he proudly said. “For the guys that they already had on the roster, it aligned with the right culture. Kawhi [Leonard] obviously being the lead guy here, Dejounte [Murray], Jamal [Murray], myself, and Darius [Bazley], it’s been really, really cool to start to understand that this is a really close-knit group and they really care about their players.”

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