Advertising is everywhere and for companies that produce basketball footwear, the biggest billboard ever is the NBA. And no endorser can do the job of selling basketball shoes better than a star player who balls in the most watched basketball league in the world. The shoe trade is no easy business, as indicated by the failed attempt of Dada Footwear to make it big in the NBA by the signing volatile Latrell Sprewell and even the dependable Chris Webber. Baron Davis also had his fair share of basketball shoe engagements that went kaput with Li-Ning. So did Patrick Ewing and his Ewing Athletics.
Basketball players view a shoe deal as a sign of their star power and influence. The more expensive the offer is, the more it indicates a player’s popularity. The more it also reveals the faith of footwear companies in them to at least get their brands noticed. And in the NBA, nothing beats a very generous footwear contract than a signature line. Shoes that bear a baller’s name is every baller’s dream, aside from winning the championship and nabbing the MVP honors.
Just take a look at Michael Jordan and the Air Jordan signature line. Or Kobe. Or LeBron.
But there are certain deals in the shoe business that leave a lot of people wondering and scratching their heads. For instance, Vince Carter once had a lucrative contract with Puma but decided to drop the brand and wore a pair of And1′s before signing with Nike.
But who has the most biggest shoe contract in the NBA today? Well, let’s start from the bottom.
Dwyane Wade x Li-Ning: $1 million a year
In a bizarre move, Dwyane Wade left the Jordan Brand and signed a deal with China-based Li-Ning. Obviously Wade left a more lucrative contract, as the Jordan Brand rakes in an average of $24 billion in sales as compared to Li-Ning’s $1.4 billion. But the Miami Heat guard said he enjoys the freedom Li-Ning has afforded him, especially when it comes to product design and development, something he never had with the Jordan Brand
Russell Westbrook x Jordan Brand: $1.5 million a year
He does not have his own signature shoe, but if Russell Westbrook was chosen by the Jordan Brand, then there is no reason why he won’t have one. It is as if Michael Jordan himself has given Westbrook his vote of confidence to represent his product to the world. In time, and if the conditions are right, Westbrook will certainly get more than $1.5 million per annum.
Amare Stoudemire x Nike: $3 million a year
New York Knicks signed Amare Stoudemire to a $20-million contract, but it looks like the team is not getting the acceptable bang for their buck. Stoudemire has been sidelined for most of his time with the Knicks due to injuries and has not been an impact player he was once touted to be. But sales of his Air Max Hyperposite in the black-orange colorway has been up, making him an asset for The Swoosh.
Chris Paul x Jordan Brand: $4 million a year
CP3′s first shoe contract only amounted to $600,000 a year but that has significantly changed. It has been rumored that a future deal amounting to around $20 million a year is already in the works. With the positive sales of the CP3 series, then it is only a matter of time before rumor becomes a reality for the young LA Clippers guard.
Carmelo Anthony x Jordan Brand: $4 million a year
Almost 10 years ago, Carmelo Anthony inked a 3-million a year deal with Jordan. And almost 10 years after, Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks never parted with the Michael Jordan-owned venture, even if his signature line is not as popular as Kobe Bryant’s and LeBron James’. Still, selling shoes for an average of $40 million a year is no easy feat, especially for someone who is ringless as Melo.
John Wall x Adidas: $5 million a year
Prior to playing professionally, John Wall signed a 5-year $25-million agreement with Reebok. Today, he is currently getting the same amount from Adidas, which also happens to be parent company of Reebok. There is no doubt that Wall’s popularity and influence will skyrocket in the future, and with that, a lucrative footwear deal is just another part of the equation.
Kevin Durant x Nike: $10 million
Despite his dominating figure in the NBA, being one of the highest scoring players in the league today and all, Kevin Durant’s signature line has proven to be difficult to sell as opposed to what others were hoping for. His $10-million yearly endorsement fees is significantly bigger than the sales of his shoes, an abysmal $7 million. Still, Nike pins their hope on Durant and plans to send him on marketing trips abroad.
Derrick Rose x Adidas: $14 million a year
Adidas certainly has high hopes for Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, whom they signed to a virtually lifetime contract of $14 million. It is a huge risk, especially with Rose out for the second consecutive season due to injuries. With Rose out from the game, Adidas is taking a huge leap of faith for this stellar point guard slash NBA MVP, whose health issues has been plaguing his very young career.
Kobe Bryant x Nike: $15 million a year
From Adidas to Nike, Kobe Bryant is one of the few players who has found huge success after leaving a footwear giant for another footwear giant. In the United States alone, sales figures for the Kobe 8 has breached the $50-million mark. That still does not include the numbers coming in from other countries, particularly in China, where Nike has been very aggressive with their expansion efforts.
LeBron James x Nike: $20 million a year
Prior to entering the NBA, Nike already wooed LeBron James to a $90-million deal in seven years. Things have changed a lot since then. With two NBA championships under his belt, along with a string of other individual achievements, saying that James’ market value has grown would be an understatement. James’ shoes sell for a whopping $300 million for each year. How’s that for market value?
Rankings provided by The Richest.