NBA: Are Adidas Shoe Contracts Catching up to Nike?

Michael Jordan undoubtedly leads the pack when it comes to NBA endorsement deals for shoe brands. His Nike Jordan brand earned $3.14 billion last year, with Jordan taking home more than $130 million in annual revenue. His signature line brand of shoes and clothing apparel sells more than any other NBA player. But, these three players have signed an Adidas contract for lucrative shoe deals. While they might not be making Jordan kind of money, it’s still a pretty big chunk of change for endorsing shoes.

It’s clear after looking at these signings that Adidas is trying very hard to close the gap in Nike’s dominance of the NBA. Unfortunately for Adidas, it seems they have a long way to go.

James Harden: Adidas’ NBA crown jewel

James Harden, a guard for the Houston Rockets, considers himself to be, “The Best Player in the World.” He might not be too far off base. Harden is averaging 39.5 points per game, which hasn’t been done since the days of Wilt Chamberlain in the ’60s. The Rockets are closely trailing the Lakers for No. 1 seed position in the Western Conference with a current 10-3 record. 

Known as “The Beard“, Harden’s confidence level is high off the court as well. This MVP hopeful inked a 13-year deal with Adidas worth close to $200 million.

In 2015, the brand lured him away from Nike with a high paying contract that included royalties and bonuses. In 2017, Adidas offered Harden a four-year extension on his contract worth $171 million.

The face of Adidas’ NBA campaign, he will represent the company through the 2022-23 season, with a $47 million payout in the final year. His signature shoe is the Harden Vol. 4, which retails for $130.

Derrick Rose

Second, on the list of Adidas’ highest-paid NBA stars is Derrick Rose. In 2008, the Chicago Bulls chose him as their No. 1 overall draft pick. He excelled in the league, and in 2011 became the youngest MVP in NBA history.

Thinking they had another Michael Jordan on their hands, in 2012 Adidas signed Rose to a 14-year contract worth almost $190 million for endorsements and promotional appearances.

Before the ink could dry on this multi-million-dollar deal, Rose tore his ACL and was out for the remainder of the season. His career and personal life started to unravel. In 2016, he was accused of sexual assault and was involved in a highly publicized court case.

The Chicago Bulls decided to trade him to the Knicks in 2016. He then bounced around to the Cavaliers in 2017, Timberwolves in 2018, and now plays point guard for the Detroit Pistons.

Despite Rose’s fall from grace, he is still being paid big money from Adidas. They have had the opportunity to reduce payments to Rose by up to 50%, but have declined to take that action for unknown reasons.

There is a clause in the contract that states that if he retires before 2025, the deal is terminated. So, as long as Rose stays healthy and continues to play ball, Adidas will keep making huge deposits into his bank account. The Rose 10 basketball shoe, inspired by D-Rose’s signature style, is the latest release in his line of shoes. 

Damian Lillard

NBA 2012 Rookie of the Year, Damian Lillard, has a strong fan base of young basketball enthusiasts. Considered to be one of the best players in the league, he has played in four All-Star Games. Wearing number 0 for the Portland Trail Blazers, this energetic point guard is far from being a zero.

In 2012, Adidas recognized Lillard’s potential and signed him to an endorsement deal. In 2014, Lillard negotiated a 10-year contract extension worth up to $100 million.

This deal, which includes incentives and options, makes him one of the highest-paid NBA endorsers in the league. It is the biggest Adidas deal, to date, behind Derrick Rose. The Adidas Dame is Lillard’s signature shoe.

It became one of the most popular non-Nike signature shoes among NBA players last season. The new Dame 6, will be hitting stores in late November 2019.

If Adidas can continue to get young talent, like Lillard, to sign on then they will continue to close the gap on Nike. Fans these days are less brand-loyal and everybody loves an underdog, so don’t sleep on Adidas.