To close the opening day of Under Armour's Human Performance Summit, Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid announced he will launch his first signature shoe with the company later this fall.
Officially dubbed the Under Armour Embiid 1, the late 2020 launch will make Embiid the only current center in the league with his own signature shoe.
"It's been a long and great process," Embiid said. "It's not a big man shoe. It's a shoe for any basketball player."
Only sixteen current NBA players have their own signature shoe, which incorporates their design and performance feedback throughout the creative process, and includes a 5% royalty from the sales of each pair.
The 7-foot franchise center first signed the lucrative five-year shoe deal with Under Armour in October, 2018, negotiated by Creative Artists Agency, making him the highest paid player at his position.
For now, the mid-cut, mesh-based signature shoe has only been previewed in a phone-restricted setting, with Embiid potentially debuting his namesake sneaker on the court as early as this spring's playoffs.
"Early on in the design process, Joel shared that he thought his life was like a movie, and like movies, all basketball careers have origin stories," Under Armour designer Reggie Wilson said. "Since Joel's story began in Cameroon, that was the creative focus of our first colorway, 'Origin.'"
A sizable support panel with flowing lines evokes a volcano's eruption along the side of the shoe, while an outline of Africa is on the heel, the first point of contact for anyone wearing it.
"As a kid, I never could have dreamed of being in this situation with my own signature shoe," Embiid said. "The process has been incredible with the work that's been put in. Not a lot of guys in my profession get this opportunity, and I'm truly grateful for it."
While Embiid does own the trademark for the phrase "The Process" and has taken it on as a nickname, he clarified that he views that phrase as more of a team-oriented concept, highlighting the collective rise of the 76ers since he was drafted 3rd overall in 2014.
His time with Under Armour over the past fourteen months has "felt like family," he said, leading him to tell his personal story and opt for the "Embiid 1" naming instead. Additionally, he wanted to utilize his family's name and honor his late brother Arthur, who tragically passed away in 2014 after being struck by a vehicle back home in Cameroon.
While Embiid has since earned a coveted signature shoe through his combination of All-Star-level play, the team's ongoing success and his personality away from the court, the endorsement deal had been centered on providing access to basketball camps for kids in both the Philadelphia area and in Cameroon.
Embiid is forever grateful for the access to NBA player and fellow Cameroon native Luc Mbah a Moute's basketball camp, where he was discovered as a 16-year-old just learning to play the game. He then moved to Florida to finish high school, soon earning a college scholarship to Kansas and rapidly ascending as a player.
"When I sat down with Under Armour, one of the first things we talked about was how this can be bigger than just shoes, bigger than just basketball," Embiid said upon signing with the company. "I want to help change people's lives like Luc changed my life."
The Embiid 1 will be only the third signature basketball shoe for Under Armour, following the early Brandon Jennings series and ongoing Stephen Curry line, after the company first launched a basketball footwear line at retail in 2010. Embiid is currently second overall in Eastern Conference voting at the frontcourt positions.
"We didn't view Joel as a big man," said Kris Stone, Under Armour's senior director of global sports marketing for basketball, after signing Embiid in 2018. "We're not gonna put him in any sort of box. He's a great player who has all sorts of incredible skills and a bigger-than-life personality."
Joel Embiid, Under Armour to launch signature shoe later this year
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