Arenas pleads for more attention from adidas

Updated: February 22, 2006, 3:59 PM ET
By Darren Rovell | ESPN.com

Just days after Gilbert Arenas covered up the name and parts of the adidas logo on the shoes he wore during Sunday's All-Star Game, the Washington Wizards forward pleaded with the shoe company to guarantee him more attention.

Gilbert Arenas
Arenas

"When I first signed my deal, they said if I made the All-Star Game in the first three years, we could rip up this contract and sign a new one," Arenas told ESPN.com on Tuesday. "Well, I made it last year and they blew me off, and nothing has happened this year either. All I want is to get my face out there. If I'm the last person on the totem pole, just tell me I'm not in your future -- don't keep my hopes and dreams up."

The contract of Arenas, who was nominated by NBA commissioner David Stern to replace Jermaine O'Neal in the game, commenced in Dec. 2003 and runs for another two years. Last December, Arenas appeared in advertising for the company's Gameday Lightning shoe but shared the spotlight with Detroit Pistons guard Chauncey Billups and Portland Trail Blazers guard Sebastian Telfair.

"It's not about the money," said Arenas, who covered up one of the company's trademarked three stripes and the adidas name on the tongue and the back of the shoes he wore. "I want to be in their advertising, have a commercial, be in a print campaign. I'll even pay for the commercial to be made."

Arenas said that he was supposed to have a meeting with adidas officials, but they didn't show up. Adidas spokesman Travis Gonzolez told ESPN.com that a meeting did take place in Houston on Friday with Arenas' agent Dan Fegan, but the player was not in attendance. Calls placed to Fegan were not immediately returned.

In October, Reebok dumped Atlanta Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall after he wore Nike shoes during a Monday Night Football game. There is usually a standard clause in endorsement contracts that prohibits endorsers from using a competitor's brand in public or from making disparaging remarks.

"If they terminate me, I won't have a problem with that," said Arenas, who has became a fan favorite, in part because of the fact that he tosses off his game-used jersey after every game and throws it into the stands. "I'll pay them the money they owe me and the money they just gave me. Just let me out clean, don't hold anything against me and let's pretend like we didn't even know each other."

Arenas said that he didn't think that other adidas basketball endorsers -- including Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Tracy McGrady -- were taking him out of the spotlight. He said that the message he has been getting is that adidas is devoting most of its financial resources towards soccer. Adidas is an official sponsor of the World Cup, which takes place in Germany, where the company is based.

Gonzolez said that the company -- which recently acquired former competitor Reebok -- is devoted to basketball as well as Arenas.

"We have been happy with our relationship with Gilbert," Gonzolez said. "And we want to figure out how we can move forward from this."

Gonzolez said that plans call for Arenas to endorse a shoe called the Piranha next fall and a signature shoe, tentatively called the Zero, will hit stores in December.

Arenas wears the number zero because he says that's how many minutes his critics said he would get when he arrived on campus at the University of Arizona. Arenas became one of only six U of A players to top 1,000 points in two seasons. The 24-year-old is averaging 28.3 points and 5.9 assists per game this season.

Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at darren.rovell@espn3.com.

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ESPN.com Sports Business reporter