Lacoste CEO Thierry Guibert came out in defense of brand ambassador Novak Djokovic over the recent row involving the Serb and Nike, in light of the comments made by the former tennis head of the ‘swoosh’ brand on Djokovic’s marketability. While many in the tennis fan community felt Guibert’s support for the Serbian tennis great was justified, his comments about Rafael Nadal in the process did not sit well with many other fans of the sport.
Earlier, former Nike tennis director Mike Nakajima said that the 22-time Grand Slam champion is often surrounded by ‘a dark cloud’ which he brings upon himself due to his controversial image, sharing his views on the Serb’s marketability and that of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Nakajima’s comments led to a social media debate over the same, with many fans of the Serbian star criticizing the former Nike executive. Responding to another fan who said that Nike would never want to work with Djokovic, Lacoste CEO Guibert defended Djokovic while also saying that his brand would never pick Nadal on its roster.
“Lacoste is so proud to have Nole and would never choose Nadal (with all due respect to him),” Guibert wrote on Twitter.
Lacoste is so proud to have Nole and would never choose Nadal (with all due respect to him)
Thanks @NDjokofan for the English translation 😂😘
— guibert thierry (@tguibert) February 16, 2023
Responding to the same, fans opined that Guibert’s words on Nadal were uncalled for, criticizing him for unnecessarily dragging the Spaniard into controversy. Meanwhile, some others praised him for supporting Djokovic in light of Nakajima’s comments.
“What an naive and unprofessional statement from a CEO..You can praise Djokovic without disrespecting a legend like Nadal. #Lacoste investors should ask @tguibert to resign if the brand is to become more global and have a better adoption among all sports fans,” a Twitter user wrote in response to Guibert.
What an naive and unprofessional statement from a CEO..
You can praise #Djokovic without disrespecting a legend like #Nadal #Lacoste investors should ask @tguibert to resign if the brand is to become more global and have a better adoption among all sports fans https://t.co/TfY9fGT5nq
— Science&politics (@Peacedividend1) February 18, 2023
This is too much now. What was the need to include Nadal in this now? It’s just banter between Rivalry fans.I don’t think Tennis needs this. You need to call out Nike Ex-executive who said bad words about Novak,not Nadal. Sorry but lost respect here. https://t.co/bH09GsWupe
— li moh (@li_mohap) February 17, 2023
“Well this is deplorable. You don’t have to tear down or diss anyone to lift someone else up. Disgusting,” another fan expressed.
Well this is deplorable. You don’t have to tear down or diss anyone to lift someone else up. Disgusting. https://t.co/tf22oimWGt
— мґ℮η†℮ґ†Ѧ1ηм℮η† (@MrEnterta1nment) February 17, 2023
Here are a few more reactions from fans to Guibert’s comments:
Not a great statement at all but Nike started the disrespect! In a more wonderful world, both the brands should come out and apologize to Nadal and Djokovic. Starting with Nike ofcourse! https://t.co/LumkFMxbpy
— చంద్రం (@Sharath140197) February 18, 2023
Ok Lacoste compares themselves to Nike indirectly 😂Seriously the big stars are all sponsored by Nike such as Rafa Nadal 😉Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James,Tiger Woods ..Just to name a few. Why would Rafa even think of any other company ?@tguibert 2.5bil 2023? https://t.co/uiF5k2dsAS pic.twitter.com/9iRuK6kn6u
— Nadalism (@cocomo788) February 17, 2023
@tguibert of course you are. You have the best tennis player of all times 😉 Hardly any other company will be able to say so in next 100 years. But thank you for supporting Nole. We know it is not always easy 😁
— Mithrandir (@KSujkic) February 17, 2023
The collaboration between @LACOST and Djokovic will be the most iconic in the history of tennis! Your kits are without competition. Not only from Novak, but also from Medvedev, RBA, Kontaveit… Great job! 🙏
— Novak Goat 🐊 (@novak_goat) February 17, 2023
Wow, this is from the CEO of Lacoste.
To say this is unprofessional, as the current CEO, is an understatement… https://t.co/OPgum79miZ
— Olly 🎾🇬🇧 (@Olly_Tennis_) February 17, 2023
We’ve entered a new phase of the Rafole rivalry. What a time to be alive https://t.co/B2DPOGTROY
— Vansh (@Vanshagar24) February 17, 2023
Nadal isn’t dying to get chosen by you. So hardly you have the liberty of choice here. If a day comes where Nadal decides to switch from Nike, 1000 brands would be lining up for him. https://t.co/Th0Ivh7OmW
— S.S (@write2swagatam) February 17, 2023
Patrick Mouratoglou comes out in support of Novak Djokovic over marketability row
Patrick Mourtoglou also showed his support for Novak Djokovic, reacting to comments made by former Nike tennis director Mike Nakajima about the Serb’s brand image.
Nakajima believes that brands often show skepticism when it comes to associating themselves with the Serb due to his tendency to be involved in regular controversies and that they prefer players with ‘squeaky clean images.’
“He could well be the most successful tennis player ever. But there’s always a dark cloud around him. It’s like he brings it upon himself,” reads an excerpt from the book titled ‘The Roger Federer Effect,’ quoting Nakajima.
“Now, as a brand: do I want to be behind somebody who always has controversy around him? Or do I want to go with an athlete with a squeaky clean image?” he added.
In light of the same, Mouratoglou, who is Serena Williams’ former coach, said that he prefers “a real human being with Djokovic’s qualities” rather than other players who he believes have untrue images of perfection.
“To answer Nakashima (Nakajima) about Nike and Novak: Whether we agree or not, like or dislike Novak, I personally prefer a real human being with his qualities, his beliefs and his flows (flaws) than a perfect untrue image of perfection. Sanctifying perfection is denying our condition as humans,” Mouratoglou tweeted.
To answer Nakashima about Nike and Novak: Whether we agree or not, like or dislike Novak, I personally prefer a real human being with his qualities, his beliefs and his flows than a perfect untrue image of perfection. Sanctifying perfection is denying our condition as humans.
— Patrick Mouratoglou (@pmouratoglou) February 16, 2023
The Serbian great, who is the current world No. 1, is expected to be fit in time for next week’s Dubai Tennis Championships after suffering a serious injury at the Australian Open last month. Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal has already withdrawn from the tournament owing to a hip injury.