Nike is not short of celebrity endorsements, especially those that come from top athletes.
With the rollout of sports betting in the United States, creating hype around leagues like the NBA and big brand dealsthere is additional interest in famous athletes like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kyrie Irving and Paul George.
The five stars have something extra going for them: they’ve signed long-term deals with Nike for branded shoe deals.
The brand also has sponsorship deals with top athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo, Tiger Woods, Rafael Nadal, but these partnerships don’t cover the famous “shoe deal”.
So what is Nike’s shoe deal and how did it contribute to the NBA’s massive popularity around the world?
Diversify basketball as a business
Starting with Michael Jordan (mentioned below), Nike has positioned itself to roll out new sneaker designs in tandem with top athletes (NBA and beyond).
It’s one facet of the NBA’s successful fashion business, which also includes jerseys and fitted caps with team logos.
The popularity of NBA fashion may seem odd, but the league regularly focuses on rolling out new jersey designs to appeal to the fashion-forward. Besides the gateway, the league is also involved in NFTs through its Top Shot and VR marketplace with its League Pass subscription.
Additionally, the rollout of sports betting across the United States has sparked the interest of those viewing offers from top brands that cover the league. The NBA, with more than 2,000 games each season, delights bettors.
Considered a great company, Nike shoe offerings are one of the facets of what makes the NBA such an important league in the world, even for those who don’t care about basketball. Let’s see how Nike and the NBA started.
The OG deal: Michael Jordan
In 1985, Nike released an all-new sneaker design called Air Jordan, which was created with Michael Jordan.
At the time, Michael Jordan was at the start of his career with the Chicago Bulls, which meant that Nike found itself primed for greatness when Jordan’s career took off soon after.
Today, top basketball stars do business with Nike, and then Nike releases a new sneaker design with their name on it. But Jordan’s first deal with Nike wasn’t just a sneaker design; it was an entirely new type of shoe that ushered in the era of athleisure and sneaker culture in the United States.
Additionally, the ubiquitous “Jump Man” logo on every Air Jordan is taken from the star player’s infamous dunk. Compared to other Nike deals, Jordan’s contract is a lot of money.
Forbes estimates that Jordan makes around $130 million per year of his contract with Nike today, even after almost 40 years since the release of the first design.