Nike dominates the NBA.
Not only are they the league’s official retail partner, but they are also at the forefront of league players when it comes to on-pitch apparel.
When Nike targets a player, they usually end up signing them based on the fact that they are Nike and most young players dream of signing with the brand. However, not all players signed by the Swoosh are on the same contract, and only a select few achieve elite status within the brand.
Here’s everything you need to know about Nike’s different tiers of shoe deals and which athletes have a signature deal.
MORE: Inside PJ Tucker’s Rise as NBA Sneaker King
Which NBA players have a Nike shoe offer?
Considering that Nike is the largest sports brand in the world – the combined share of Nike and Jordan Brand represents 86% of the performance market and 96% of the lifestyle basketball category – it is only natural that a large number of players of the league wear the brand’s products.
It is estimated that more than two-thirds of the NBA wear Nike shoes on the court, but we must point out at this point that not all Nike shoe contracts are created equal. Only one very a small percentage have a signature shoe contract (we’ll get to that in detail below), and there are three tiers of Nike contracts in the league.
After all, even a conglomerate like the Swoosh can’t pay everybody to endorse their product.
What are the three levels of contracts?
- Merchandising offer: Most Nike athletes in the league are on that deal. This is when the company basically provides merchandise that the player can wear without monetary compensation in exchange. However, a merch-deal player is entitled to a free product to wear during games, and these players often also receive a product allowance, which is around $25,000. This does not carry over to the next season and must be spent by September 30.
- Cash transaction: According to ESPN’s Nick DePaula, in 2020 there were approximately 225 players in the NBA who were on a cash deal, across all brands. These players can earn between $200,000 and $300,000 per year and up to $2-3 million per year. They have a base Nike salary, and their agreement usually includes various incentives and product compensation.
- Signed agreement : It is the ultimate and the one that all players hope to achieve. These players not only have their own sneaker – and in some cases, merchandise as well – but they receive a high base salary, as well as bonuses and a royalty on all of their shoe and apparel sales.
MORE: Ranking Jordan’s best PEs: Westbrook, Melo, Allen bring the heat
Which NBA players have a signature shoe deal with Nike?
As mentioned earlier, a signature deal with the Swoosh is reserved for a select few.
As we near the start of the 2022-23 NBA season, only five active players will have a signature shoe with Nike, with LeBron James leading the way with the 20th iteration of his LeBron line releasing this fall.
Incidentally, LeBron’s line is the second longest signing line with the same company behind only a guy called Michael Jordan. You may have heard of her shoes.
Giannis Antetokounmpo became the first European player to have his own signature shoe when Nike launched the Zoom Freak 1 in Athens, Greece. Kyrie Irving, who is on the ninth iteration of his wildly popular line, wonders if he’ll see a 10th with the brand after he publicly slammed the Kyrie 8, calling it “trash”.
Irving later echoed those comments, but his contract with Nike is up at the end of the season and the company may feel like he can’t continue working with the Nets guard. It has been reported that Nike is unwilling to extend Irving’s contract beyond the end of the 2022-23 season.
|james lebron||Nike LeBron 20|
|Kyrie Irving||Nike Kyrie 9|
|Giannis Antetokounmpo||Zoom Freak 4|
|Kevin Durant||Nike KD 15|
|Paul George||PG 6|