June 29, 2015 BY Yale Schalk / 0
Dwyane Wade’s 2012 jump to Li-Ning excepted, it’s difficult to imagine many players who would refuse to wear Jordan Brand sneakers but that’s exactly what Dragan Bender did.
The 17-year-old, 7-foot star forward will not play for Croatia in the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship because the team is sponsored by Jordan Brand.
Bender has a contract with adidas.
Maurizio Balducci, Bender’s agent, reported to DraftExpress.com that the Croatian Basketball Federation informed him that Bender is not suiting up for the team as long as he holds onto his adidas brand loyalty:
“They said to me, if Dragan doesn’t use Jordan Brand shoes, he can’t play. We are very sad. He wanted to defend the colors of his country, but it looks like commercial reasons are above sport reasons. I am so sad for all his teammates his coach.”
Vladimr Vanjak, head of Croatia’s delegation, confirmed Bender’s omission from the roster to FIBA.com:
“The fact is that Bender denied [refused] to play in the Jordan Brand shoes but our Federation has a contract with Jordan and everybody has to play in Jordan Brand. He denied to do that but he didn’t say anything before coming here. That’s the problem. I talked with my Secretary General and other people who made the decision because we have a very serious contract with Jordan. If he cannot play in Jordan Brand, he cannot play. That’s it.”
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