Winning a signature shoe deal is a right of passage for any NBA superstar. From a young age, players around the world dream of signing that big contract, then putting on their own kicks. This holds true for some of the all-time greats including LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, and Michael Jordan, all of whom have owned Nike shoe deals over the years.
Nike has been at the forefront of recruiting the world’s brightest young prospects for some time. The famous sportswear maker has recruited several talented players over the years, dating back to 1984 when Jordan became the first NBA player to sign with the company.
In this article, we’ll compare LeBron James’ deal with Nike to the contracts Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Michael Jordan signed with the sports giant.
Several companies had their eye on Durant when he graduated from the University of Texas in 2007. In the end, however, the DC native opted to ally with Nike, signing a $ 60 million contract on seven years, with a signing bonus of $ 10 million. . At the time, it was the second largest rookie contract. According to several reports, he actually turned down a top offer from Adidas.
Durant signed a 10-year extension with Nike in 2014 that “has the potential to reach $ 300 million and includes a $ 50 million retirement package.” according to Jeff Zillgitt by USA TODAY Sports. Under Armor gave him a big deal, but Nike had the ability to counter – and they did.
Rovell and Marc Stein previously reported for ESPN.com that Nike countered an Under Armor bid in the $ 265-285 million range. Nike felt the amount was enough to keep Durant, and Sunday’s news proves that was indeed the case.
In 2019, Durant achieved total revenue of $ 89 million, according to Forbes – Of which $ 32 million came from his footwear contract with Nike. As its market value continues to grow, so does its brand.
The Nike KD 13 launched TODAY
– Official foot fire (@footfire_) April 6, 2020
The late Kobe Bryant signed with Adidas as a rookie. However, after a few installments of his signature shoe with the company were released, The Black Mamba decided to make the jump to Nike.
Sneaker enthusiasts will well remember Kobe’s first shoes with Adidas (the KB8 I, II and III). Many have argued that sneakers are less attractive. Critics noted that later models were too large to reduce guard clearance and bombarded stores.
– Complex sneakers (@ComplexSneakers) Feb. 15, 2016
The Adidas Kobe 2 is by far the worst shoe ever. pic.twitter.com/1D3JrM2B7W
– MARSHALL || We take it (@censorthisplz) August 16, 2019
A 24-year-old Bryant signed a four-year, $ 40 million contract with Nike in 2003. There were ongoing legal issues that prevented him from being awarded his own signature line of shoes at that time. , so he adopted a generic Nike shoe – the Huarache 2K4.
In his first season with Nike (03-04), Kobe took the Huarache 2k4 to the hardwood! And the rest is history pic.twitter.com/hNYUuU0i21
– Renaissauced (@renaissauced) December 18, 2017
In 2006, Kobe got his first official shoe with Nike: the Zoom Kobe 1. From there, the Philadelphia native would go on to become one of the most successful sponsors in the company’s history. Even after retiring from the Lakers in 2016, Nike continued to throw his signature kicks.
– #NBAKicks 👟 (@NBAKicks) January 22, 2019
Sadly, Kobe was killed in a helicopter crash just outside Los Angeles in January at the age of 41. All nine passengers on the flight, including her 13-year-old daughter Gianna, were killed in the tragic accident.
Although it was caught too soon, the Mamba mentality that Kobe left behind will live on forever, and new Kobe kicks keep coming out.
With the No.1 pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected James, a promising phenomenon from nearby Akron, Ohio.
Knowing its potential, Nike offered James what was the biggest annual rookie shoe deal in league history, valued at around $ 12 million a year. For comparison, Durant’s rookie sneaker deal was worth $ 9 million a year.
In 2015, Lebron signed a lifetime sponsorship deal with Nike. According to multiple reports, the contract could net the three-time champion more than $ 1 billion by the age of 64, marking the biggest guarantee for a single athlete in the company’s history.
“I’m very humble man,” James said after signing his lifetime contract with Nike, via ESPN. “It’s been an amazing time for me and my family, and I’m just thankful that Nike and [Nike founder] Phil Knight and everyone out there just believed in a lean, skinny 18 year old kid from Akron, Ohio, and I’m happy to be a part of such a great company.
According to Forbes, James made $ 89 million in fiscal 2019. Of that total, $ 32 million came from his footwear deal with Nike. $ 36 million came from his NBA salary, while $ 21 million came from various endorsements.
The LeBron line of shoes with Nike has grown in popularity over the years. Which variant do you prefer? We will take the VII.
– AmazonBay4u (@ AmazonBay4u) July 24, 2017
According to a Forbes report, the wholesale revenue of Nike’s Jordan Brand subsidiary reached $ 3.14 billion in the fiscal year ending May 2019, an increase of 10% over 2018. In August 2019, His Airness was earning around $ 130 million a year thanks to his shoe contract, which was four times more than James, who was No. 2 in sneaker earnings at $ 32 million.
Jordan’s line is further enhanced by the players wearing his shoes on the court. In fact, a slew of stars represent the brand, including LaMarcus Aldridge, Carmelo Anthony, Jimmy Butler, Mike Conley Jr., Blake Griffin, Maya Moore, Chris Paul, Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker and Russell Westbrook (to name a few some). The last major addition to the Jordan team was Zion Williamson, who was the No.1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
A bit of perspective on Jordan’s current financial situation, via Forbes:
Michael Jordan’s massive gains in Nike royalties represent 90% of his current annual income and now totals $ 40 million more than the combined $ 90 million he earned in his 15 years playing for the Chicago Bulls and the Washington Wizards.
As mentioned earlier, Jordan became the first NBA player to sign with Nike. However, you better bring your wallet if you are looking to buy a pair of Air Jordan 1. In good condition they often fetch thousands of dollars.
Original Air Jordan 1 full set pic.twitter.com/xEUa0AHb4u
– TREND MODE (@Trndyemporium) April 12, 2020
Jordan hasn’t played in the NBA in years, but the six-time champion is still the undisputed king of sneakers.