Adidas has vowed to invest more money in basketball, and their first big move is a monster shoe endorsement offer made to James Harden of the Houston Rockets that could make him one of the 25 highest-paid athletes in the world.
Adidas has made a 13-year, $US200 million offer to Harden, according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.
The offer, worth about $US15.4 million per year, would be among the richest shoe endorsement deals in the NBA. It’s ahead of Derrick Rose’s 13-year, $US185 million contract with Adidas, but behind players like Kevin Durant, who recently spurned Under Armour and re-signed with Nike on a deal worth in the neighbourhood of $US30 million per year for 10 years, and LeBron James, who Forbes estimates makes $US20 million per year on his Nike deal.
This move comes on the heels of Adidas dropping their apparel deal with the NBA. At the time, Adidas global basketball general manager Chris Grancio told Matthew Kish of the Portland Business Journal that his company would invest heavily in player sponsorships, and despite losing the $US36.5 million per year apparel deal, Grancio told Kish that Adidas is “going to invest more money in basketball over the next five years than [they] ever have.”
“We haven’t been able to elevate our brand for the basketball consumer that we’re targeting,” Grancio told the Portland Business Journal. “We ultimately decided that we would change our investment strategy and invest more in players on the court.”
Last season, Adidas was a distant second in the NBA in terms of shoe brands worn by players on the court. That gap is even bigger if Jordan Brand, a Nike subsidiary, is included with Nike’s total.
According to Grancio, Adidas wants to double the number of players wearing its sneakers by 2020.
Nike can still match Harden’s Adidas offer by the end of next week. Rovell says in the past Nike would let Harden walk. However, “things are hypersensitive inside [Nike] corporate headquarters” after losing out to Under Armour on Stephen Curry and Jordan Spieth.
Harden, who will make $US15.8 million with the Rockets this season in the third year of his five-year contract, could make more than $US32 million this upcoming year in salary and shoe deal alone, depending on how the endorsement deal is structured. That alone would have been good enough to be one of the 25 highest-paid athletes in the world this past year, according to Forbes.
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