Ditching Nike, Nikola Jokic Follows Aaron Gordon into $0.99 Billion Worth Chinese Brand

Published 12/20/2023, 8:43 PM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

Open the textbook and turn to the page dating back to June 26, 2014. From being only a second-round draft pick to becoming a two-time NBA MVP, Nikola Jokic is a gives-it-to-you-straight, “no joke” underdog. Even so, he was the only MVP in the league in the last 16 years to not have a signature sneaker line. Despite Nike releasing a ‘No Joke’ campaign in July 2023 after he helped the Denver Nuggets win their first NBA championship, a potential signature Nike shoe deal was still a no-show. Turns out a Chinese company took the first cab off the rank to sign a multi-year deal with the Serbian.

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Remarkably, for a superstar of his caliber, Jokic was the only NBA MVP since Dirk Nowitzki in 2007 without a signature sneaker line to his name. But better late than never. In a departure from the conventional routes chosen by NBA superstars, Nikola Jokic pulled out the Joker by venturing into rather uncharted territory by officially inking a multi-year sneaker deal with 361 Degrees—a Chinese brand worth $0.99 billion.

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This came after Jokic was seen wearing a pair of 361 Degrees sneakers during a Nuggets practice session. It came as a surprise because the Serbian has worn the Player Exclusive Nike Air Zoom G.T. Jump throughout his career. Although Nike sponsored him, it never offered him his own line of shoes. 361 Degrees saw an opportunity to bring one of the biggest stars in the circuit on board, and it took it. 

The intricacies and financial details of this deal are currently under wraps, leaving fans curious about the specifics. Interestingly, Jokic’s decision aligns him with the same company as his teammate, Aaron Gordon. Gordon signed a partnership with 361 Degrees in 2020, and the multi-year collaboration made him the face of the brand. After Jokic’s deal, it looks like the Nuggets men will be leading the 361 Degrees charge in the NBA.

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Nike has been the most prominent shoe brand worn by players in the NBA. And that has been the case for more than two decades. But moving forward, Nikola Jokic won’t be one of them, adding to the list of stars who have cut ties with the American giant.

Nikola Jokic is not the first big name Nike has lost

Nike’s recent history is marked by the departure of superstars and star players, with Nikola Jokic being the latest addition to the list. Notably, Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving are prominent athletes who opted for different paths. Curry’s move to Under Armour, after a pitch meeting gone wrong with Nike, elevated the brand’s status among NBA fans. Under Armour now has a global presence compared to when they gave Steph a deal.

Seeing the success of their 10 signature shoes together, the Golden State Warriors star signed an extension with the brand this year, a contract that is expected to run past his playing career. On the other hand, Kyrie’s association with ANTA has sparked considerable interest among fans and has paved the way for the Chinese brand into the NBA. Both the players were lost due to inner decisions and slip-ups from Nike.

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As per sportsworldnews.com, rumors also state that Nike has discontinued their Paul George signature line, the PG line. Adding to this trend, LaMelo Ball of the Charlotte Hornets decided to align with Puma, Joel Embiid chose Skechers, and James Harden opted for Adidas. Now, as Jokic departs from Nike for his signature line with 361 Degrees, the American brand finds itself losing yet another high-profile player.

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With signature shoes becoming more commonplace than ever, who do you think will be the next NBA star to get a shoe line of their own?

Watch This Story | Alperen Sengun Muffling Nikola Jokic and Co at Home Takes NBA World by Surprise

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Written by:

Saahil Dhillan

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“Places you go in life – it opens your eyes up and you kind of understand who you are.” - This is my philosophy in life. I want to go to innumerable places and get inspired by the people and experiences I come across, just like Dwayne Wade.
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Edited by:

Sameen Nawathe

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