Welcome to Shoe Biz Kid!

As 2017 NBA free agency looms large and players are expected to sign with interested suitors, some players have more flexibility than others in how they’re able to choose the next team they call home.

Though not a free agent, Klay “The Toaster” Thompson joined the ranks of some of the elite by inking an $80 million, 10-year shoe deal (extension) with Anta. What makes this such an important deal is it gives Klay, among other players, the opportunity to take a smaller salary with his respective team of choosing rather than hinging the bulk of his financial earnings on a particular team. This my friends is the new diversification of professional sports, whether it be the NBA or MLS, it’s all about the endorsements!

The kicker for Klay, no pun intended, is that his new shoe deal makes him one of the highest paid players with a Chinese shoe deal. That’s a feat in itself, but then again, with deep pockets and shifting economics we shouldn’t expect that this is the last time a foreign company will invest heftily in an American athlete. Remember, Dwayne Wade also inked a deal with the Chinese shoemaker Li Ning some time ago when his profile was a bit higher.

So, now that Klay’s got new money in hand, where does this rank him on the annual shoe biz ladder?

Michael Jordan @ $110 million with Nike (Jordan brand)

Lebron James @ $32 million with Nike

Kevin Durant @ $25 million with Nike

Kobe Bryant @ $16 million with Nike

James Harden @ $14 million with Adidas

Stephen Curry @ $12 million with Under Armour

Derrick Rose @ $11 million with Adidas

Klay Thompson @ $8 million with Anta

Dwayne Wade @ $8 million with Li Ning

Kyrie Irving @ $8 million with Nike

Paul George @ $5.5 million with Nike

Russell Westbrook @ $5 million with Nike (Jordan brand)

Carmelo Anthony @ $5 million with Nike (Jordan brand)

If there’s anything to be said about Klay Thompson is that all he cares about is playing ball and winning, no matter who’s signing the check. For Klay, and his teammate, Stephen Curry, one has to admire that they’ve both taken the road less traveled and signed lucrative deals with up-and-coming shoe companies in which they can almost single-handedly be the face of the brand. For a guy that scores 60-points in a game for which he sits out the last quarter, struggles offensively during most of the 2017 playoffs, plays lock-down D, and notches his second chip in three years atop a fresh $80 million shoe deal, we respectfully dub thee Klay Day!

Welcome to shoe biz kid!

(This article was originally published on June 30, 2017)