Kawhi Leonard: Kawhi Leonard has completely redefined the meaning of the silent treatment after his incredible performance against the Heat in the NBA Finals this year. Besides being the obvious choice as the NBA’s season-long Quiet Game Champion, the San Antonio Spurs’ deadly assassin took home the MVP he so humbly deserved with an NBA championship ring to boot on Sunday night. Kawhi’s emphatic dunks, relentless barrage of 3-pointers and cat-like reflexes on defense are likened to that of a player with 99 ratings across the board in the latest version of the NBA 2K video game and fans got the chance to finally hear the man speak after receiving his career-changing award. This quiet, lovable new star has future brand ambassador written all over him.
Clint Dempsey: Come on, Clint. You couldn’t even have waited till we got home from work through 5 o’clock traffic yesterday to score your first goal in the World Cup this year? Okay, who are we kidding? We’re not complaining! Right on cue, the team captain answered the resounding questions of doubt that have surrounded the U.S. national team leading into this World Cup and deposited the States’ first goal into the back of the net a mere 32 seconds into their first group play matchup against Ghana. Dempsey is easily the most popular player in the United States this year and he has long since been utilized as a marquee brand ambassador in major marketing campaigns during the months leading up to and following the World Cup.
Erik Compton: Hats off to Martin Kaymer who blew away the field at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst this past weekend, but our hearts go out to Erik Compton. The incredibly resilient 34 year-old golfer has battled through 2 heart transplants and the lasting effects of those operations from an early age to posting the second best score at a major tournament on the PGA Tour. His ability to keep life in the right perspective and come up so clutch at one of hardest tests in golf can motivate us all to never give up the fight to reach our goals in life.
Carmelo Anthony: We’re not sure if Melo has updated his concealed carry permit for that jumper recently, but it looks like one of the NBA’s top pure shooters could be heading to a new city. Now the most highly sought free agent in the market this offseason, Melo can virtually pick his supporting cast to pursue a ring next season as the Knicks are working to bring in better players to support him and some of the league’s top teams including the Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls are making power moves to sign him. While the bright lights of NYC certainly do shine quite a large spotlight, a move to a loaded team like the Houston Rockets could have Melo’s ring finger shining just as bright before it’s all said and done.
Jurgen Klinsmann: Heading into the World Cup, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann knew there was stiff competition awaiting the States in their first round Group of Death. Yet his return flight home from Brazil has not been booked until after the Cup final and after an emotional first win against Ghana, team spirits are high. Now in his fourth full season as the leader of the men’s national team, Klinsmann is one of only a handful of soccer legends to have won a World Cup as both a player and a coach and many U.S. fans hope he might finally be the key to manufacturing a miracle on grass. We believe that we will win!
John Brooks: With one quick flick of the head, John Brooks went from relatively unknown backup defender to national hero yesterday in about the time it takes to pop the top on a can of Pepsi. The 21 year-old knocked in what proved to be the U.S. national team’s game-winning header and is the first American male player ever to come off the bench to score a World Cup goal. As if scripted, John dreamed he scored a goal in the 88th minute (his real goal game in the 87th) and we’re dreaming of all the potential opportunities this new young talent may have waiting for him if his strong performance continues this World Cup.
Alexi Lalas: Although we certainly miss the flowing orange locks and matching, wispy beard, Alexi Lalas is the perfect personality to help anchor ESPN’s premiere coverage of the World Cup this year. As a former player and GM, Alexi knows more about soccer than most players and fans can comprehend and his ability to cater his knowledge to the novice audience tuning in every 4 years for this global event remains superb. Now the spirited soccer legend is also gearing up to join with Nestle Nesquik in a campaign off the pitch to provide youth soccer organizations and their participants tips on nutrition and healthy recovery options after the big game.
Peyton Manning: As if it was even possible, Peyton Manning seems to be catching more endorsement deals faster than he can throw touchdowns! One of the NFL’s leading hot commodity in terms of off-field marketing potential has signed on as Nationwide insurance’s newest pitchman. THe Denver Broncos are sponsored by Nationwide and the deal looks to continue after Peyton’s imminent retirement whenever that may be. Peyton has played his business career almost as well as his career on the field, maintaining stake in new ventures and becoming a national spokesperson for a number of industry leading companies over the last decade.
Tina Charles: As any center on a good basketball team knows, sometimes the game plan calls for you to be selfless; diligently pursuing rebounds and getting open shots for the hot hand. New York Liberty center Tina Charles takes selfless to heart and she has pledged to donate half of her WNBA salary this year to Hopey’s Heart Foundation she created in memory of her aunt who died of organ failure in 2013. Her continued efforts in the form of fundraisers, complimentary Liberty ticket programs and motivational speaking engagements to encourage health education and CPR training in schools and communities across the United States earned her this year’s Kia WNBA Community Assist Award, way to go Tina!
Jim Harbaugh: Although Jim insists the whole ordeal is much ado about nothing, wife Sarah has vowed to rid the top NFL coach of his now widely recognizable array of pleated pants! The couple has partnered with Dockers for a new ad campaign that features a priceless mock PSA from Sarah to rid today’s male population of “Dad Pants.” Credit Dockers for finding the perfect avenue of sports and popular culture with which to introduce their trendy pants and Jim’s ability to laugh along with the public goes a long way in terms of personal branding off the fierce field of competition.
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