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Kawhi Leonard's new shoe commercial takes him back home

Leonard's ties to Los Angeles take the spotlight in latest New Balance commercial

LA Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard is known for his all-around skills, his two Finals MVPs, his Kia Defensive Player of the Year awards and his status as one of the NBA’s best players today.

The low-key Leonard is also known these days for his roots as a California and Los Angeles native (remember: he starred at King High School and later at San Diego State before his NBA days). That homegrown aspect is the focus of the latest New Balance commercial — the shoes which Leonard endorses — this season.

Despite his quiet ways, Leonard has proved instrumental in New Balance pumping up the volume when it comes to basketball fans and sneakerheads recognizing their brand. Andrew Grief of the Los Angeles Times recently caught up with Patrick Cassidy, New Balance’s global director of consumer marketing, to detail the “Reign Over L.A.” ad campaign.

“It’s the next step in playing off what we see as his super independent spirit,” Cassidy told the newspaper. “He very clearly wanted to go home. Now he’s found his way home. This is his next chapter.”

The sports-focused creative and production agency The Rec League, which is based in L.A., came up with and produced the campaign. In it, Leonard goes from a basketball court working on his skills to a driving tour around the city.

Cassidy told the Los Angeles Times that the company’s goal was never to become “the No. 1 basketball brand in terms of market share globally overnight.” Unlike other companies — such as Nike, Adidas, Under Armour and others — New Balance is focused on having a handful of basketball shoe endorsers (of which Leonard will presumably be No. 1).

“To have our very first shoe validated by an NBA champion and Finals MVP who just kind of rampaged his way through the playoffs in an unbelievable fashion?” Cassidy said. “Performance credentials right out of the gate.”