|Sponsorship rules upset ex-NBA stars
Ex-NBA star Stephon Marbury blasted the Chinese Basketball Association's sponsorship rules after he was fined for failing to cover up the logo on his own-brand shoes, state media reported Tuesday.
Marbury, who plays for the defending CBA champion Beijing Ducks, said it was "not right'' that players were forced to wear footwear made by league sponsor Li Ning, or conceal the logo when wearing another brand, AFP reports.
"Every player has his right to wear what shoes are right for his feet to protect his body and wellbeing while playing on the court,'' Marbury told the state-run newspaper China Daily.
"It is not right that players can't have a choice to wear what's comfortable while playing at a high level. Safety is first and it's my right.''
Marbury was fined US$3,210 (HK$24,940) for not covering up his shoes -- which were designed by him and made in China by the 361 Degrees brand through a partnership with the American basketball star.
Marbury has complied with the league's rules since he was fined on the opening week of the season.
While Marbury is permitted to wear his own brand of shoe if the logo is covered as he is an overseas player, the sponsorship deal requires domestic players to wear Li Ning or pay US$80,200 to wear other brands.
Many players have complained about overprotection for the sponsors from the CBA, particularly as some claim to be wearing other brands for health reasons.
The league has a US$321 million five-year sponsorship agreement with Li Ning.
The sports brand also provides a tailor-made service to players who claim their shoes are uncomfortable, the paper said.
Excitement is soaring for this year's CBA season, which features three former NBA All-Stars for the first time.
Marbury is joined by Tracy McGrady, a former team-mate of Chinese basketball superstar Yao Ming, and Gilbert Arenas, who are heading a cohort of 28 ex-NBA players who have made a new start in China.
McGrady plays with the Qingdao Eagles which has not won a game so far this season, while Arenas was injured in his first match with the Shanghai Sharks and has not appeared in a game since.