Loyal To The Game
Derrick Favors values loyalty, and it is evident through his early business decisions.
by Franklyn Calle and Rodger Bohn
In a day where just about every elite 9th grader is getting bags full of gear from every major shoe company, Derrick Favors has always stayed loyal to the 3 stripes of adidas. Coming up with the Atlanta Celtics AAU program, he was a staple at every adidas tournament throughout the years. On a program that has produced big men such as Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, DeSagana Diop, and Randolph Morris (with cameos from Amare Stoudemire, Travis Outlaw, and Joe Johnson), Favors made the relatively unprecedented move of playing 17-U as a 15 year old. It’s a more common move within some programs, but not within the Celtics.
“Its just loyalty to them. They took care of me while I was in high school and AAU. They gave me shoes and helped sponsor my high school team; we didn’t have shoes,” says Favors when asked about signing an endorsement deal with adidas. “So I’m just staying loyal to them.”
With only a few hours to go before David Stern stepped to the podium and began calling out teams‘ draft picks, SLAM had a few minutes to talk with Favors, who was in Times Square at Champs Sports. In a promotional move by adidas, Favors worked behind the counter for an hour, ringing cats up and signing anything that wore the three stripes. The 18 year old had no problems chatting it up with fans and really seemed to be loving every single second of his lifelong dream coming true, alongside his loyal friends from adidas, of course.
The 3rd pick in the 2010 NBA Draft was a mainstay on the adidas circuit throughout his entire high school career, never jumping AAU teams or hitting up Nike events. There were a few instances in which the run may have actually been better with the “Swoosh,” at camps such as the LeBron James Skills Academy and things of that nature. That didn’t matter to Derrick though. He was loyal to adidas and they were loyal to him. That’s why it should come as no surprise that Derrick almost immediately signed an endorsement deal with them upon entering the NBA Draft. Coincidence? I think not. “I had adidas. Those were my first shoes,” says Favor. “I was lucky they wanted to sign me, so as soon as they asked me, I jumped on and said yeah I’m going with adidas.”
In an eerily similar move of loyalty, Favors signed with Wallace Prather III. If that name rings a bell, it’s because Prather III is the son of Atlanta Celtics founder Wallace Prather Jr. Prather Jr. passed away suddenly in 2005 after having chest pains, and Hulio Smith stepped in to fill the immense void left by the Atlanta park supervisor. Coincidence that Favors remained loyal to those who helped him out since he was in the 7th grade? I think not.
“Umm, no it wasn’t an easy choice for me but I just wanted to stay committed to them,” says Favors, when speaking of his decision to choose Prather as his agent. Prather also represents Atlanta Celtics alumni Josh Smith and Randolph Morris.
The 6-10 forward averaged 12.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game in his lone season at Georgia Tech. He feels the general public didn’t quite get the chance to see his all around game while in college. And Favors will be looking to demonstrate his full repertoire next season in Newark. The Atlanta native identifies his “high-post game” as the one part of his game fans may not have gotten a chance to see from him. “A lot of people didn’t get a chance to see that at Georgia Tech because I was playing mostly on the low-post,” says Favor. “A lot of people didn’t get a chance to see my high-post game.”
When asked what part of his game people are sleeping on, he rapidly says, “Probably my face-up game. They just think I’m an athletic guy who just dunks all the time but they don’t know that I can face-up, shoot the jumper, and drive.”
Favors assures us that the New Jersey Nets are going to get “a hard working player that’s going to give them one-hundred percent every night,“ in him. “They [NJ Nets] are a good, young rebuilding team. They got a new head coach, a new owner. They are going in a new direction that I hope to be a part of and help them accomplish what they want to accomplish in the next few years,” he adds.
In a business where the rich get richer, it was interesting and refreshing to see two of the highly touted prospects in the Draft choose to sign endorsement deals with non-Nike affiliates. John Wall, the No. 1 Draft pick in this year’s Draft, shocked many when he chose to sign with Reebok. Just three years ago, Wall wasn’t even a relative-known name at the national level. But all of that changed in June 2007 at the Reebok Breakout Camp, a camp designated for those players who are looking for exposure. It was then that Wall jumped into the national scene after turning heads in Philadelphia. And the rest was history. When it came to time to make the decision, Wall has said he felt the need to be loyal to Reebok for believing in him.
Throughout the NBA Pre-Draft workouts, the debate was whether the Nets should go with Favors or Kentucky’s DeMarcus Cousins. They ended up bumping into each other in a few cities at team workouts. Many closely examined the workouts, looking for ways to determine who is bound to have a better professional playing career.
“I think we did good against each other. We’ve been playing against each other since high school. We’re pretty much used to playing against each other and now we gotta get used to everyone comparing us,” says Favor of the Pre-Draft battles he had with Cousins. “You know how DeMarcus plays. He’s a big, strong guy so he’s going to do his thing. I showed off a lot of skills they didn’t know I had.”
Favors now joins two other Atlanta natives, Dwight Howard and Josh Smith, at adidas. The former Yellow Jacket will feel right at home in joining a transnational company with guys he already knows and can relate to.
“Yeah, I’ve worked out with them. Whenever they have free time or during the offseason, they would come through and play pick-up or just workout, or they would just sit down and talk to me. So we do have a good relationship.,” says Favors. “They [adidas] got some other great players under shoe deals. This is an opportunity to learn from them, work out with them and just learn from them overall.“
For now, Favors just wants to take it one step at a time. Brook Lopez and him teaming up in the frontcourt has the possibility of developing into something special for the organization, in which they can build from. But that’s all expectations and predictions. One thing is certain, Favors’ loyalty to those who were there for him when it all began is going to keep his inner circle tight-knit…for the time being at least.