How he changed NBA and Nike Sneaker sponsorships – Footwear News


Darryl Dawkins, basketball player from planet Lovetron, died yesterday at the age of 58. While the legendary basketball player was known for his electrifying dunks and infectious smile, in the shoe world he was known for something else – ditching his mid-game Nike sneakers for a pair of Ponys.

Dawkins, one of the first players to skip college and go straight to the NBA, was an attractive player for sports brands looking to sign endorsement deals.

According to a New York Times report from August 2, 1982, Dawkins was in hot water with the Beaverton, Oregon-based sports brand after he retired his Nikes, the brand that gave him an endorsement deal. , and changing into a pair of Pony sneakers. in a playoff game while playing for the Philadelphia 76ers.

“Although far from being the largest in the industry, the contract Mr. Dawkins signed with Nike in July 1980 involved substantial sums,” The New York Times reported. “In exchange for wearing Nike shoes at all practices, games and other uniformed occasions, Mr. Dawkins, along with 25 other NBA players, was made a member of the Nike Pro Club.

Dawkins on the court wearing Nike sneakers.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Twitter.

“Club members share a royalty pool to which Nike contributes 10 or 20 cents for each pair of shoes sold, depending on the price of the shoe,” the report continues. “So, in addition to his $50,000-a-year guarantee, Mr. Dawkins split the pool money left over after the guaranteed amounts were paid.”

As a result of the sneaker change, Nike sued Dawkins, resulting in one of the first lawsuits filed for brand or athlete sponsorship. John O’Neil, then president of Converse, said in the New York Times report that he was unaware of any prior trademarks suing an athlete.

While Dawkins can be credited with playing an important role in turning NBA players into marketing machines, the Nike legal battle he faced also resulted in much tighter contracts and formalization processes. .

The outcome of the trial? Well, the man known as Chocolate Thunder then signed with Pony, doing guest spots in the brand’s marketing efforts, including dancing with break-dancers and diving into a 1984 commercial. Dawkins went on to worn the brand’s Uptown silhouette on the court, which will see a limited-edition reissue in 2007.


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