GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – J.R. Smith went directly from high school in New Jersey to play in the NBA and made roughly $90 million in his career. Now he looks like he’s going to earn a little more as a collegiate golfer.
Smith, now a freshman on the golf team at NC A&T University, has signed a NIL agreement – that stands for “name, image, license” – with the apparel company Lululemon, ESPN has reported.
EPSN says this would make Smith the first representative of Lululemon’s new line of golf products. The company’s site does not include any promotion about that extension of its brand.
You may know the story about Smith, who enrolled at A&T after his retirement from basketball and walked onto the Aggies’ golf team for the 2021-22 season. The team is scheduled to play in the Big South Conference Championship starting Wednesday in Ninety Six, S.C.
Last fall, he told the News & Record in Greensboro that playing college golf was “a learning experience. … It’s a lot different than playing with your buddies.”
That was quite a bit different, too, from Smith’s NBA career. Drafted by the then New Orleans Hornets with the No. 23 pick in the first round of 2004, Smith, a 6-6 guard-forward, went on to spend 16 years in the league and found success.
He played for five teams in 977 games and averaged 12.4 points. But he also was a teammate of LeBron James on the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 and the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020. He retired after that final.
But not before Smith had made more than $40 million playing for the Cavaliers in 2016-19, peaking at $14.720 million for the 2018-19 season.
NIL deals are new to college sports and allow athletes within NCAA rules to earn self-negotiated income from vendors who want to use their names and their images to sell products, something that the courts set in motion and the NCAA adopted in June 2021.
Sports Illustrated reported that Smith’s college experience had spread his popularity and that he had signed with Excel Sports Management to market his NIL opportunities.
Smith can’t promote Lululemon at NCAA events, but he can appear in advertisements and write about it on his social media accounts. Other than inherent publicity, NC A&T has no oversight or profit from NIL contracts signed by its athletes.