Tonight brought back a lot of memories as we found out that John Wall signed a shoe deal today with Reebok for terms that we will talk about below. It was the first time I had heard about Reebok as a shoe company for basketball in quite some time. On Twitter, people told me that Allen Iverson was the basketball face for Reebok and Sidney Crosby/Ochocinco are part of their brands for other sports, but it looks as if with this pickup, Reebok is basing its basketball brand around Wall. So while the future may be bright, for me Reebok basketball will always be about the “Pumps.” For those of you who may be a bit younger, the year was 1991 (when sadly, incoming Freshmen to UK next year were not even yet born), and I was in middle school. The great (or at least mediocre) Dee Brown won the NBA slam dunk contest and before his final dunk, set a new height in cross-promotion by “pumping up” his Reebok shoes. Brown hit a crazy no-look dunk and the shoes became the hottest things on Earth. Just by coincidence I owned a pair of older basketball shoes that had a basketball on the tongue like the Pumps. It didnt pump up and was merely decorative, but from that moment on, everywhere I went, someone would say with eagerness, “Are THOSE PUMPS?” I would inevitably have to say no and they would walk away giving me a look that is only matched by women when they realize that their friend’s purse is a knockoff from Chinatown and not some an 800 bag from a big-name designer. Since that day, I have always wanted a pair of Pumps, just so I could go around the halls of Middlesboro Middle School and tell everyone, “YES, THEY ARE PUMPS!” I am not sure the reaction would be the same, but I would feel better.
To the news….
— As stated above, the John Wall shoe contract with Nike is a monster. 5 years, 25 million dollars, an unbelievable amount that has only been matched by an incoming rookie once in recent years, that by Lebron James. As part of the deal, there will be two “signature shoes” created for Wall and he will become the face of the Reebok NBA brand, joining its other big client, Yao Ming. Wall’s deal showcases just what his marketability is set to be in the NBA, as it is ten times….yes TEN TIMES, the amount of the deal struck last year with the #1 pick, Blake Griffin. Congratulations to Wall, who is officially now rich and so long as he doesnt hang with Antoine Walker, will never have to work again.
— An interesting side note to the Wall shoe contract is the fact that he didnt sign with Lebron’s Nike deal. Much has been made by fans of other schools about the UK-WWW-Cal-Nike-Lebron connection, but the facts just simply dont support it. Wall didnt sign with Wes or Lebron’s agent and also will be a competitor to his shoe company. In fact, the only player who left UK that maintained any connection to any of those sources is Eric Bledsoe, who will be represented by the same agent as Lebron. Myths about Nike getting Wall and other players to UK have been shown to be just that….myths.
— The other big story in college sports is the announcement tonight that Nebraska will join the Big Ten this week and a late report from the LA Times that the Texas/Oklahoma schools are deciding on Thursday whether to join the Pac 10. We have talked a lot about this throughout the week, but suffice to say the main issue now is the immediate fate of Kansas. If the six schools move to the Pac 10, Kansas/Kansas State/Iowa State and either Baylor or Colorado will be left hanging. All four schools are left with virtually no option but to join the Mountain West and Kansas will all of a sudden see its powerhouse basketball program in a conference with Wyoming and San Diego State. If that happens, it is a shocking development and one that could provide a temporary smack to Kansas basketball…and Samantha Ryan.
— The APR ratings came out and Kentucky was above average nationally for basketball. This however doesnt tell us a whole lot as it doesnt include last basketball season and thus the “Daniel Orton” effect has not yet been shown. Here is the bottom line on Orton and the APR. The Cats will take a slight drop next year as the last two years of Tubby (which were great in APR) go off and the last year of Clyde (which has transfers that hurt) and Daniel Orton’s quitting of the semester take effect. The score will go down and for the next three years, Kentucky CANNOT have any problems without taking an APR hit. So today was good news, but the storm is to come and UK cannot afford another Orton situation.
— In case you missed it today, the Cats will play Windsor College in Canada on August 15 and 17 as part of their Canadian tour. I am going and if you can, you should too. Maybe we will see Bernard Cote.
— Rob Gidel reported tonight that Terrell Mitchell has reconfirmed his commitment to Kentucky for next season. Mitchell was a top-flight recruit out of high school who picked UK but then went JUCO. He picked UK over a number of Big Ten schools, incluidng Michigan and his decision to recommit is very good for the Cats 2011 class.
— Tom Izzo is actively considering going to the Cavs, no matter how many times Dick Vitale twitters that he will not leave. Avery Johnson was hired by the Nets. Which job will the media now say that Calipari is going to get?
— Billy Clyde spoke today in Texas and said he loved UK and wants to coach college basketball again. I hope he finds a job at some point, but the fact that he has now gone two hiring seasons without, suggests he is finding it mighty difficult.
More all day. If you havent listened to this week’s podcast, please do. It was the #1 college podcast on iTunes Mon-Wed and is a good listen. We will be following all the expansion news all day and see if Kansas (and potentially down the line Louisville) is left in musical chairs with nowhere to sit.