Professional basketball players in China are prevented from having private shoe sponsorship after the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) have signed an exclusive five year deal with local brand, Li Ning. Players are now prevented from wearing Nike, Adidas shoes on the court. The ban includes everything from jerseys to shoes. The new sponsorship deal is estimated to be worth $300 million (US) and any player who defies the ban will face suspension according to the CBA.
Problems already arose recently when Yi Jianlian (Guangdong Southern Tigers and former Los Angeles Lakers) complained of sore feet and removed his Li Ning shoes to wear his Nikes during a game. The referee refused to let him back on the court but when he reappeared still wearing his Nike sneakers later in the third quarter, the referee allowed him in the court. He now faces a one match ban. Previously, players were allowed to wear their personal sneakers but only with the logos covered and if they were prepared to pay a fine.
In the US, a salary cap limits the amount of money players can earn, but they can benefit from lucrative endorsement deals such as a shoe contract. Many players have a number of sponsorships and are able to significantly supplement their income through endorsements.