Shaq signs shoe deal with Chinese company Li-Ning

Updated: August 15, 2006, 10:55 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Shaquille O'Neal made a fittingly titanic splash when he signed with Miami two summers ago. Now the 7-foot-1, 330-pound Big Aristotle is taking his over-sized act to the largest emerging market in the world.

 Shaquille O'Neal
O'Neal

O'Neal on Monday announced that he has signed a five-year contract with Chinese shoe company Li-Ning, the Miami Herald reported on its Web site. O'Neal becomes the second NBA player to sign with Li-Ning, after former Heat teammate Damon Jones.

"When my friend Damon Jones became an endorser, I saw the shoes he was wearing were very unique and trendy,'' O'Neal said during a news conference in Beijing. "It appealed to me and many other NBA fans."

According the NBA, O'Neal is the fourth most popular athlete in China behind Michael Jordan, Rockets center Yao Ming and former English soccer captain David Beckham. Li-Ning hopes O'Neal will help the company make a dent in China's $1 billion market.

O'Neal's myriad other endorsements have included deals with Pepsi, Reebok, Spaulding and ICY HOT.

Financial terms for the Li-Ning contract were not immediately available.