Lebron Signs Lifetime Deal With Nike


ESPNNike has signed Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James to a lifetime deal in what one source familiar with the negotiations said is the largest single-athlete guarantee in company history. “We can confirm that we have agreed to a lifetime relationship with LeBron that provides significant value to our business, brand and shareholders,” Nike said in a statement. “We have already built a strong LeBron business over the past 12 years, and we see the potential for this to continue to grow throughout his playing career and beyond.” A company spokesperson would not say how much Nike paid. It is believed to be the first lifetime deal in the shoe and apparel company’s 44-year history. “I’m very humble, man,” James told reporters after Monday’s practice. “It’s been an unbelievable time for myself and my family, and I’m just grateful that Nike and [Nike founder] Phil Knight and everyone over there just believed in a skinny-old, skinny 18-year-old kid from Akron, Ohio, and I’m happy to be a part of such a great company.”  A source close to the deal told ESPN that it easily surpasses the 10-year, $300 million deal Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant signed with the world’s largest shoe and apparel brand last summer. “LeBron and I have been in love and obsessed with Nike since we were kids,” Maverick Carter, James’ business partner, said Monday. “Having built a totally innovative global business with them has truly been a dream come true. We are so excited to be taking the business to an entirely new level. For LeBron, he’s thrilled to know he’s a Nike guy for life.”

Im sure this cant really be considered a “bad” move by Nike. Lebron is obviously the player of this generation and along with his sneakers he’s doing movies and TV shows and all sorts of off the court projects, so there’s no doubt hes a great dude to be linked to for life. Nike is the premier brand for the NBA, Lebron is the premier player. There’s no reason this shouldnt be a marriage for life.

But at its most basic level, this is a shoe deal. And there’s only one dude who can move sneakers well past his retirement and thats MJ. Lebron aint gonna be selling sneakers when he’s 50. For 2 main reasons – 1) Lebron’s shoes are pretty much always lame. They’re always weird and clunky and futuristic looking. You can’t wear shit like this:

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anywhere but the basketball court. Which leads to 2) There’s no allure to Lebron’s kicks. Nobody is waiting in line for Lebrons. Nobody is scrambling to land a pair of his shoes. If you put a pair of Lebrons in front of me I wouldnt even know if they were his or not. I cannot possibly imagine that in like 20 years Nike is releasing retro pairs of Lebrons. I mean right now people are still buying Jordan’s from the 80s. Thats fucking insane. Shoes that are like 30 years old still the hottest thing on the market. Styles and trends and fashions come and go and people are still buying 1s 2s 3s and 4s. And thats primarily because of the exact 2 opposite reasons. Jordans are stylish shoes that can be worn off the court, and the idea of Air Jordan’s is a greater than the actual shoes themselves. I dont know why that is – it’s kind of a chicken or the egg thing. Are these shoes designed by guys like Tinker Hatfield and Mark Smith such enormous successes because it was Michael Jordan? Or was it just that Jordan was the first mega star they had and kind of lucked into shoes that were designed successfully? My point being that if those guys designed those same shoes and called them Lebrons I’d still rock them. I dont really care if they are called Jordans or not. They’re just much better looking shoes.

So whether or not its because of Jordan or just because of the designs, either way I just dont see Lebron releasing smash hit sneakers like 10-15 years after his retirement like Mike. I guess in fairness, Jordan hasnt either. He’s like 0 for his last 15. But I dont think any of the Lebron shoes have that re-releasability or the ability to stir up sneakerheads long after he’s gone. Maybe thats just unfair to yet again compare Jordan to Lebron. I’m sure Lebron can make Nike a boatload in various other ways too. And maybe its just the old school, old man in me that thinks Lebrons sneakers are lame and wont sell. They made Nike $400 million dollars this year. People are fucking buying them, Kevin. But I dont know if Nike can ever capture another phenomenon like Air Jordan in terms or popularity and impact on sneaker culture. There’s tons of ways to make tons of cash but I dont think there will ever be another Jordan in terms of sneakers. That brand is forever the benchmark. The perfect match of on the court greatness promoting off the court style.

PS – From a player point of view this is a no brainer. Not only because he’s probably got like some sort of ownership in Nike now or at least like a 500 million dollar deal, but just because of reputation. If I was an NBA star I’m 1000% signing with Nike. Forget all that Adidas nonsense. Forget Under Armour. There’s one brand to be associated with if you want to be at the top and thats Nike.