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Nike Jordan signs first Chinese basketball star for US$1.4mn a year

Nike’s Jordan Brand has signed Chinese basketball player Gao Ailun for a deal worth a reported US$1.4 million a year and marks the 20th anniversary of the brand making its way into the Chinese market.

Guo is a 24-year-old point guard for the Liaoning Flying Leopards in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), joining Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian as Chinese players with shoe deals, though he is the first to sign as a CBA player.

Jordan Brand released a video welcoming Guo to the family, with Michael Jordan providing the voiceover and a note of encouragement to him.

This spot from AKQA’s Shanghai office, a voiceover from Michael Jordan says, “Welcome to the spotlight,” as the man heads in. There, he finds what appears to be a museum-like locker room, which stores the jerseys, shoes and gear of other Jordan stars: Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler, Blake Griffin, Kawhi Leonard and Russell Westbrook. At the end, the custodian hangs up a new uniform, Guo’s.

Jordan’s monologue closes with an oblique reference to Guo’s pioneer status as a representative of the Jordan brand. “You are the first. Countless have dreamed of this. Represent them. Represent me. Represent yourself.” There’s no explanation until the end, when a message flashes on the screen: “We are Jordan. Guo Ailun, welcome to the family.”

“Joining the Jordan Brand family is a dream come true,” says Guo in Nike’s news, “I’ve visualised playing like MJ since I was a kid — from managing the game and leading my team to a championship. It is an honour to be the first Jordan Brand athlete in China and I am thrilled to bring my love of the game to the brand.”

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