UPDATE: Click on here for the special Lin colourway of the Nike Zoom Hyperfuse that Lin wore to the Rising Stars game. You can go to NikeiD.com to customize the same sneaker. NikeiD shoes are 40 to 50% more expensive than their off-the-shelf counterparts according to SportsOneSource’s Matt Powell.
The two biggest NBA stories collide Thursday night when Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks face off against LeBron James and the Miami Heat in South Florida. Rumors are circulating that President Barack Obama and / or former President Bill Clinton will be at the game. Don’t count on it because Clinton attended Sunday’s Heat game and Obama’s schedule has it in Orlando tonight. Still, the idea that two presidents could run is a testament to the hype surrounding the game.
As the NBA took advantage of Lin’s frenzy, the sports world awaited Nike’s next decision regarding Lin. Nike signed Lin in 2010 and is the only company he has a relationship with. Its Nike offering is similar to most NBA non-star shoe deals, which include free material and little cash.
Lin traveled to Taiwan last summer for Nike for basketball camps in two cities. He shot training videos for Nike basketball last summer (see clip below). He will be visiting China and Taiwan this summer on behalf of Nike, according to Nike CEO Mark Parker. Nike won’t comment beyond its plans for Lin.
Nike’s first “Linsanity” t-shirt arrived in Foot Locker stores nationwide late last week. But what about a Lin sneaker? The pictures floating around the internet of a purported Nike Lin shoe isn’t the real thing, but a Lin-themed shoe is in the works. Don’t expect it in stores this weekend when Lin stars in the Rising Stars game for TeamShaq during All-Star Weekend in Orlando.
“You want to do it while it’s hot,” says Matt Powell, who follows the sporting goods market for SportsOneSource. But Powell warns these things take a long time to hit the shelves. He thinks the fastest time to sell something in the mass market is 30 days if they are airlifting the goods from Asia, instead of the usual boat trip.
A Lin sneaker this year will not be a signature shoe in the sense of LeBron 9 for LeBron James or Kevin Durant Zoom KD IV. It takes months to design, manufacture and ship these shoes from Asia. Lin’s shoe will be a variation of Nike’s existing Hyperfuse sneaker that Lin already wears according to Powell. A Lin-specific Hyperfuse sneaker will likely incorporate a combination of the Knicks’ blue and orange colors, Lin’s name, and his jersey number # 17.
Signature shoe offerings are rare in the NBA with three each from Nike (James, Durant and Kobe Bryant) and its brand Jordan (Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade). Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard have them with Adidas and John Wall with Reebok. Wall’s deal is worth $ 25 million over five years and is low-end for those contracts. James and Bryant both make over $ 10 million a year for Nike.
A new, much more lucrative Lin / Nike deal is likely on the horizon if Nike is to expand its use of Lin in any marketing campaign. Reports of an already signed contract extension are false according to CNBC’s Darren Rovell. A new shoe deal will likely propel Lin up among the NBA’s top earners when it comes to sponsorship revenue.
Nike, including the Jordan brand, already owns 90% of the U.S. basketball shoe market according to SportsOneSource. Lin isn’t going to move the needle on this. He can help in China, where Nike had $ 2 billion in revenue in its fiscal year ending May 2011. It wants to double that figure for 2013. Linsanity can help them achieve that.