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“I’m a Nike Guy”: Millionaire LeBron James Opted Against Reebok Deal That Could Have Added Much More to Net Worth

Published 05/23/2022, 12:00 AM EDT

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LeBron James is a generational player that doesn’t come along that easily. Even during his high school days, many predicted that he would be a “Beast” in the NBA. He was even dubbed as the “Chosen One”, which he has inked on his back.

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The Cleveland Cavaliers drafted as the #1 pick him in 2003. And James’ association with Nike started in 2003 as well. He signed a seven-year $87 million deal with Nike. And in a resurfaced video from 2003, LeBron talks about how he has always been a “Nike Guy” throughout his life. It was also reported that Reebok offered $115 million and Adidas offered less than $60 million. 


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While it looks like Adidas kind of underestimated LeBron’s growth, Reebok definitely believed that he would be a superstar. And it was evident from their much higher offer. James’ relationship with Nike turned out to be great. But he could’ve changed the fate of Reebok if he had signed with them. 

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LeBron James and Nike

James, being drafted by his hometown team, got the fans of Cleveland hyped. And the fans expected him to turn the team around to win their first-ever NBA title. 

LeBron James took the NBA like a duck to water. He showed why he was the #1 pick straight from high school. Even though he was still a teenager, it didn’t look like he was a boy among men. In fact, he pushed around NBA veterans on the basketball court however he desired.


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In 2010, LeBron signed an extension with Nike. He also signed with the Miami Heat that year angering thousands of Cleveland fans. Then LeBron won his first NBA title in 2012 and successfully defended it in 2013.


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In 2015, LeBron James signed a lifetime contract with Nike. While the numbers aren’t clear, it is reported that the deal could be worth $1 billion. It is also reported that Nike makes an estimated $600 million per year from James’ signature sales. 

In 2021, Nike honored LeBron James by naming a building after him called ‘LeBron James Innovation Center’. And he became the first basketball player after Michael Jordan to receive such an honor 30 years back. Nike revealed the Jordan building in 1990. 


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James said that he was emotional when he first heard about Nike’s plans for the ‘LeBron James Innovation Center’ in 2016. But Nike didn’t just honor James, they took a step further to honor his journey by naming a coffee shop in the building after his mother, Gloria James. It also has a mural of the mother and her child.

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Written by:

Bagavathi Eswaran


One take at a time

Bagavathi Eswaran is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He has been playing the game of basketball for more than 20 years now and has also been following the NBA for more than 10 years. After not being able to go pro, this former college player decided to join the IT industry.
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Edited by:

Arunaditya Aima