Adidas are trying to beat Nike in the NBA Sports equipment market but seems they are on a losing battle. Their 10 year contract as the league’s official kit supplier ends with the 2015/16 season and Nike will take over.
What they want is to enter the highly profitable but Nike dominated Sneaker market. However, Nike controls 93% of the Sneaker market with stars like Kevin Durant and LeBron James are among the 322 players who endorse it. Younger players and reigning MVP, Steph Curry are signing with the now rising company, Under Armour. Who does Adidas have? Derrick Rose has been injured since 2012, despite signing a 14 year contract. Damian Lillard and Portland are not in the same league as Kevin Durrant, Stephen Curry or LeBron James. John Wall, for all his style on court, his first signature sneakers failed to kick off this past season. Adidas need someone recognizable, a talent.
Answer: James Harden
Fear the Beard!!! Houston’s shooting guard, James Harden is one of the most marketable athletes on the court now, having put in solid performances in the last three seasons with the Rockets. What’s better, he does not need super flashy moves. Yes he does let his performance do his talking, but it’s his beard that makes him one of the most recognizable players in the NBA. Houston even sell beard props to their fans.
With his deal with Nike expiring, Adidas are hoping he will be the big name signings they need to make an impression in the sneaker market. According to reports, Harden will be earning $200 million over the next 13 years and if other possible incentives could be taken into account, he will be earning more with Adidas than with Rockets.
“We’ve invited James Harden to join Adidas,” said Adidas spokesman Michael Ehrlich in a statement. “We’re a brand of creators and he truly embodies what that means with his approach to the game, his look and his style on and off the court. He’s coming off a historic season where he won the scoring title and was voted MVP by his peers. His connection with fans is unparalleled and unprecedented and he can take the game, our brand and the industry to new heights.”
Adidas will be also hoping, that by tying him up they could appeal to the masses in China, where the Rockets have a large following thanks to the exploits of Yao Ming. If the Rockets can make a bigger advancements in the Playoffs (namely, reaching the finals), it would undoubtedly pay off for Adidas when sneaker sales will rise, should they secure a deal with James.
Firstly, it depends if Nike will match Adidas’s offer. Even if they do not, it would not hurt them too much, given their overwhelming market share. But, if the German sports manufacturer can sign him, it might give them the star they need to make an impact in the sneaker market that will also complement their existing players. Who knows, younger players might even sign with them.