New Balance brand carves out new space with NBA superstar Kawhi Leonard
New Balance Athletics Inc. had nothing to do with NBA star Kawhi Leonard’s decision to leave the Toronto Raptors, according to a marketing executive for the company.
“We intentionally were not involved at all,” Pat Cassidy, the global director of consumer marketing for New Balance, told BNN Bloomberg Friday.
“Our stance from the very beginning was we very much love this partnership with Kawhi and we are here to support him in any decision that me makes,” Cassidy added. “We were ready for any outcome.”
After weeks of wondering what the 27-year-old Los Angeles native’s decision would be as a free agent, Raptors fans were disappointed to learn last weekend he would be joining the L.A. Clippers, after leading their team to its first championship title.
Cassidy said New Balance has been capitalizing on Leonard’s brand power in real-time, and had products ready to go for the Clippers market, which he said sold quickly once they became available.
“We had no influence into what his final decision was going to be.”
Cassidy said Leonard, who teamed up with New Balance last year in a multi-year endorsement deal, is part of the company’s long-term strategy.
“What I, and we, found in Kawhi is a guy who had that vision, knows what he wants and bought into what and where we wanted to take New Balance basketball,” Cassidy said. “So what started as a few informal discussions in the early fall, developed into what we have now, which is pretty great.”
“We are lucky enough to be partnering with an athlete like Kawhi. He’s in it with us.”