Peak Sports, one of China's leading sportswear companies based in Jinjiang city, Fujian province, has agreed to a multi-year endorsement deal with Dwight Howard of the Houston Rockets, China Daily has learned.
Dwight Howard, starting center of Houston Rockets, receives a banner from a Chinese fan during a signing ceremony with Peak Sports in Beijing, Sept 7. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Peak announced the blockbuster deal on its official Weibo account on Sept 2. It did not disclose details such as contract length and volume.
The signing triggered a strong response among millions of basketball fans in the country. Howard, despite being bugged by injuries over the last few years, is still considered by many as one of the greatest centers in the game.
"We are honored to partner up with Mr. Howard. I hope he can regain his top form wearing the Peak sneakers we will design for him," said Xu Zhihua, CEO of Peak.
The 30-year-old perennial All-Star and the No.1 pick in the 2004 NBA Draft now leads an ace lineup of the Peak team along with other NBA players including Tony Parker (Spurs), Carl Landry (Kings) and George Hill (Pacers).
A magnificent signing ceremony was held at a livehouse in downtown Beijing on Monday night, and the rock star swaggered onto the stage to a rowdy audience of about 200.
Having been to China 11 times, Howard knows too well how to get fans off their feet. The 6'11'' man greeted his admirers in fluent mandarin – although with a strange accent and an extremely limited vocabulary – and shared jokes with the hosts.
Dwight Howard (2nd, right) and Xu Zhihua (3rd, right) talk about their ideas on the first generation of Howard's Peak signature sneaker. Peak has designed two versions of his shoes, and will invite fans to design a third. Howard and his team will pick their favorite from them. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
"I'm happy to be back to China and be part of the Peak team. We (the Rockets) are looking forward to having a great season this year. Wo Ai Ni (I love you), China."
The Houston Rockets has been the most popular NBA team in China since it selected Yao Ming at the No.1 pick in the 2002 Draft. It remained the home team for a multitude of Chinese fans even after Yao retired in 2011 due to persistent leg injuries.
A so-called "Peak Championship Law" was proposed when keen fans noticed that there was always a Peak spokesman on the championship-winning team from 2009 to 2014.
Howard was intrigued by the anecdote and embraced what could possible be a positive sign for the Rockets, who were last year one step away from making their first Finals appearance in two decades.
"I am very encouraged by it. I know China really supports the Houston Rockets. Hopefully this will be our season."