18 Years Since His First Contract, Nike Honors the King by Opening a 750,000-Square-Foot LeBron James Innovation Center

Published 10/04/2021, 10:25 PM EDT
PORTLAND, OR – SEPTEMBER 17: (CHINA OUT) LeBron James unveils the LEBRON 12 on September 16, 2014 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)


Being an NBA player involves responsibilities outside the four corners of the hardwood floor. Back in the 70s or 80s, the focus was mostly just the game and players did not dip their toes in other ventures. However, as the game evolved, so did the athletes, and with that, so did business. Endorsement deals with sports brands became another milestone to measure success and nowadays, almost every great athlete is either part of the Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Fila, and other apparel families. But nobody can match LeBron James and his name in this industry either.

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LeBron James sets the bar higher with his very own Nike Innovation Center

Signing sneaker deals is another way for athletes to keep the income coming even after they retire. But the success in this business is directly proportional to the success in the game. This is why Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James are the biggest entrepreneurial names when it comes to NBA players. Why won’t they be? They have been fighting for the GOAT status for the longest time.

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While this debate is far from over, LeBron James has done the unthinkable as Nike as honored him with his very own LeBron James innovation center. This is the first time that Nike has opened a center in which apparel, shoe design, and analysis of athletes will take place under one roof.

This new Nike research facility in Oregon covers 750,000 square-foot of land, five times bigger than the last lab that was opened 40 years ago in Exeter, New Hampshire. This only reminds us how impactful the L-train’s footing has been. In 2003, the 18-year signed a $90 million deal with Nike, which is to date the largest rookie deal. And now has a lifetime deal and the largest headquarters in his name with incredible in-house facilities.

WATCH THIS STORY: Which College He Would Have Picked, Why He Quit Football & Other Lesser Known Facts About LeBron James

What is the primary focus of this NSRL?

The VP of the Nike Explore Team Sport Research Lab, Matthew Nurse defined it as, “The NSRL is the epicenter of where we work with athletes of all abilities, all backgrounds, all skills, and all sports.” 

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This is the most creative way to understand the target audience’s needs and opportunities. This will be groundbreaking to be able to help different kinds of athletes all around the world and it will all be under LeBron James’ name. And a proof by Nike itself, to make the world know how committed they are to making their products better.

BEIJING, CHINA – SEPTEMBER 04: NBA star LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers meets fans at a Nike store on September 4, 2017 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Visual China Group via Getty Images/Visual China Group via Getty Images)

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What an incredible feat for the legend. Every time one thinks that this is his ceiling now, what can be better than this? Bron ensures he breaks it and outdoes himself. Can it get any better than this? Knowing LeBron, probably!

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Yashima Bhatia

1569 articles

Yashima Bhatia is an NBA writer for EssentiallySports who specialises in providing nuanced predictions and updates for matches. She has a Bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. Yashima's love for playing the game came up at a young age, when the excitement of the games coupled with the intensity of the Playoffs had her hooked.

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