Joel Embiid signs Under Armour footwear deal expected to make him richest center in NBA

Philadelphia 76ers franchise center Joel Embiid has signed a five-year footwear and apparel endorsement deal with Under Armour.

The average annual value of the deal is expected to make the 7-foot All-Star the highest-paid player at his position, industry sources told ESPN’s Nick DePaula.

Embiid’s status as a “big man” didn’t appear to slow down the sizable offers from several brands that made him this year’s most coveted sneaker free agent.

“There’s a stereotype about big men that can’t sell shoes. When I look at myself, I’m not a big man; I’m a guard,” Embiid said, with a smile. “I can do everything on the basketball court. You can name it — pass, post up, shoot the ball, bring the ball up, being a playmaker — so I’m excited to break that stereotype. I can’t wait to do so much more with Under Armour.”

Embiid submitted his signed offer sheet on Sept. 28 after the 76ers’ annual media day session had concluded. It was at media day that he was first spotted wearing the new Under Armour HOVR Havoc sneaker, which he has worn throughout the preseason.

His prior brand, Adidas, had up to 10 business days to exercise its standard “match clause” rights on the Under Armour offer sheet, but the company moved quickly and had notified Embiid and his CAA representatives by the following morning that it would be declining to match.

The 24-year-old was also heavily courted by Puma and New Balance over the past month, but he keyed in on Under Armour as being his preferred destination early in the process. After averaging 23 points and nine rebounds per game during his second season for a rising 76ers team that finished third in the Eastern Conference, Embiid emerged as the most sought after sneaker free agent of the fall.

In addition to the landmark financial offer, the Baltimore-based brand impressed Embiid with its dedicated resources to building him custom-made footwear, additional charity commitments for the Philadelphia region and his homeland in Cameroon, and the potential to receive his own capsule releases of branded footwear and apparel.

Embiid joins an Under Armour roster that includes Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper.

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