One of the perks of being a professional athlete is endorsements. Superstars like Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki have plenty of them, and they’re easy for him to obtain. What product or business wouldn’t want to be associated with the Big German?
Other players struggle to obtain those endorsements. Some players just plain luck into them.
Take Al-Farouq Aminu, the Mavericks’ fourth-year forward. Aminu came to Dallas last summer to be a “dirty work” type of player, one that tracks down rebounds, plays defense and provides grit as opposed to scoring.
“He’s worked himself into an important position on our team, and we need him to keep producing,” said coach Rick Carlisle of Aminu.
But Aminu also came to Dallas with his own endorsement deal, and an unusual one at that: eyewear.
Aminu is attached to Geek Eyewear and has been for the past few years. He didn’t get the gig based on his basketball ability; he sort of stumbled into it.
After the Los Angeles Clippers selected him out of Wake Forest with the No. 8 overall pick in 2010, Aminu strode to the podium on national television, shook hands with then-commissioner David Stern and did so in a pair of black-rimmed glasses from Geek Eyewear that might be more suited to a computer nerd than a potential NBA star.
Aminu didn’t care. He just liked the way they looked.
The phones at Geek Eyewear rang off the hook, shortly after and within a week Aminu and the company had an endorsement deal. That partnership has expanded beyond Aminu’s simply wearing the glasses. He has collaborated with Geek Eyewear on the Rouq Collection (long before teammate Tyson Chandler got into the sunglasses biz), and he took a real interest in the design and production.
“Last summer I was in Los Angeles and I got real involved in going to the facilities, finding out how things were made. I even got to design one,” he said. “I usually just pick glasses that I find pretty cool. But this year I got more involved and it made me feel good about it. I think I designed a really cool set of glasses.”
But here’s the kicker: Aminu doesn’t actually need corrective lenses. That’s not a surprise, necessarily. Other NBA players with good vision have worn glasses to make a fashion statement.
“I actually don’t need glasses at all,” Aminu said. “I just do it for the looks, really.”
“I actually don’t need glasses at all,” said Aminu, who has a deal with Geek Eyewear. “I just do it for the looks, really.”
Of course you don’t need glasses to see that Aminu has thrived in the role the Mavs have asked him to perform this season. Aminu came into the league as a scorer, but in the past couple of seasons he’s transitioned into more of a defensive player and rebounder.
Those were the roles Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle had in mind when Aminu arrived. He needed a forward that could spell Nowitzki, of course, and Aminu is the first forward off the bench when Nowitzki comes off the floor.
Aminu has definitely delivered. He has become a player Carlisle tends to trust and has provided the Mavs more than just a forward off the bench.
“He’s playing multiple positions so it’s not hard to get him in the game,” Carlisle said. “He’s doing a multifaceted job for us. He does great things on offense with movement, and his shot-making is getting better. Defensively he’s guarding three and sometimes four different positions on a night-to-night basis.
“He’s worked himself into an important position on our team, and we need him to keep producing.”
Physically Aminu is back from a shoulder injury, but he is still icing it down considerably after games. He’s not looking ahead to next season, especially because he’s not under contract.
Certainly he’s shown the Mavericks enough that they may consider bringing him back. But he’s not making any demands and says his focus is on “living in the now.”
“For me that means worrying about what you can control,” Aminu said. “I can’t control the future, so there’s no need to worry about it.”