Kawhi Leonard is the most talked about player in basketball right now.
Carrying the Toronto Raptors to the NBA Finals in his first season in The North following an odd exit from San Antonio, The Klaw has been getting it done on both sides of the ball rocking his new sponsor: New Balance.
What’s noticeably missing from his almost 30 pairs of PEs he’s worn from NB? His famous “Klaw” logo seen famously on his Air Jordan PEs and signature apparel.
Nike on Kawhi Leonard suing them alleging the company trademarked the logo he created as their own when he was with the brand: “We do not comment on pending litigation.” Logo has not been on his New Balance product. pic.twitter.com/CJtugyQ7wY
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) June 4, 2019
According to sources and reporting on NBA.com, Kawhi Leonard is suing Nike for rights to his logo.
Historically speaking, the Swoosh would have the juice in this type of situation. If you look back at the removal of the flame logo from Andre Agassi product when he left Nike for adidas or Roger Federer trying to take his famous ‘RF’ marker from the Swoosh to Uniqlo, the Beaverton brand has a history of protecting any property they published on their own product.
However, where things get slightly sticky is here: Kawhi is said to have designed his own logo. Yes, you read that correctly.
This is not just a timely claim in accordance with a lawsuit, word of Kawhi tracing his hand and creating his own logo date back to a 2014 interview with Nice Kicks.
In the 2014 piece, Kawhi is quoted as saying:
“I came up with the idea of incorporating my initials in this logo. I drew up the rough draft, sent it over and they (Jordan Brand) made it perfect.” — Kawhi Leonard said in 2014 interview with Nice Kicks
Over his tenure at Jordan Brand, the Klaw logo famously appeared on many PE pairs worn by Kawhi in San Antonio. It also appeared on a range of apparel. As a Texas resident, I can claim these sold like hot cakes in San Antonio.
Clearly having a city behind him in Toronto (or LA if he chooses to go back home in free agency) and brand backing from New Balance, it’s not far fetched to think that Klaw branded NB product would fly wherever Kawhi plays. While Kawhi being able to sell shoes will be put to test once the OMN1S release at retail, it’s a proven fact he can sell shirts.
According to reports, Leonard plans to use his Klaw logo “on clothing lines, footwear and on other products and, among other things, in connection with sports camps and charity functions.”
While Kawhi’s claims that he created the Klaw logo are strong, Nike states that it “refined” said logo in December 2011/January 2012. Leonard is hoping the court rules him as the author of the Klaw logo, claiming Nike “committed fraud” when they registered the logo for copyright.
In 2014, Leonard more or less backed this statement when referring to the Klaw logo.
“I give the Jordan Brand team all the credit because I’m no artist at all,” said Leonard. “They refined it and made it look better than I thought it would ever be, and I’m extremely happy with the final version.”
Perhaps the closest case study for Kawhi and his team to reference in an athlete retaining their logo while switching sponsors is Shaq. The Diesel’s famous “Dunkman” logo left with Shaq when he bounced from Reebok, eventually stamping everything from his Payless product to Li-Ning sneakers.
With that said, Shaq’s self-branded homage to Rony Seikaly’s style of dunking at Syracuse also has college connections to its namesake as the many of many nicknames trademarked his own logo at LSU.
Yup, before he even signed with Reebok.
Beating Nike in court will be a challenge for Kawhi and his team, but as fans of the game most would like to see Kawhi keep his Klaw logo.
How will it all go down? Keep it locked to Nice Kicks for updates.