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Breaking News: Prince, Blake Agree to Split
CNBC.com | May 23, 2007 | 05:05 PM EDT

After an endorsement relationship that lasted 18 months, Prince and American tennis star James Blake are parting ways in what will be a rare case of an athlete leaving a brand voluntarily in the midst of a deal.Prince was efforting to get Blake into its O3 Technology, which is the best selling racket in the sport and has held the top spot at specialty stores for the last 15 months. But like many tennis stars who resist the latest technology, Blake just couldn't get used to it. Instead of faking a relationship, whereby the tennis player just gets his painted to look like the racket, which definitely happens , Blake and Prince just ended it.For that, I give both a tremendous amount of credit. I've been covering the sports business long enough to realize that many athletes don't use the products they say they do. And I respect that it just didn't work out.In my book, Blake and Prince were never in the business to deceive the public. Sure, his racket had a small Prince stencil on the side, but never put the big "P" on the strings. The company made posters with Blake, but never had a Prince racket in his hand and the Prince Web site listed his racket as "experimental."Of course, critics will say that Prince and Blake couldn't have faked a relationship if Blake didn't want to use the O3 technology because those rackets have holes in it and it would have been hard to paint holes without getting caught.

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