Shoe deals are quite common in today’s NBA. While not everyone has their own signature shoe or huge contract, there are more than enough deals to go around.
All top players have one, with some role players getting some too. What truly differentiates athletes is the brand they choose. There are several huge shoe brands on the market, but few are as big as Adidas.
This guide covers the different all-star athletes signed to the giant, as well as the numerous other players who work with them across the league.
Building a Brand
When fans think of big NBA shoes, Nike and Jordan are the two that most often come to mind. Nike has long been the top of the top for sports apparel, but Jordan exploded onto the scene in the late 90’s and hasn’t slowed down since.
Both companies generate a ton of sales and, as expected, also have many big names. They have long held a monopoly over top athletes, and routinely sign top athletes. Even so, their strong hold on the shoe industry is not as stout as it once was. There’s more competition now.
That has led to many smaller brands rising up, including both newcomers like Puma and seasoned underdogs like Reebok. All companies have left their mark, but few have done it as well as Adidas.
The More, the Merrier
As mentioned, it’s hard to find a top shoe brand that doesn’t have numerous NBA athletes under its banner. There are a few ways companies make that happen. They can either go after the top players and try to sign them to huge deals, get unproven rookies, or cast a wide net.
Adidas chooses a mix, where they get some big players but also go after a range of smaller athletes in order to get their shoes into as many games as possible. It works quite well, they are an extremely popular brand after all, even if it does differentiate from the traditional model.
The reason they use a blend is there’s constant competition within the shoe world. NBA players are always at a premium for shoe deals. Whereas someone like Nike can bring in the likes of Lebron, Adidas doesn’t have as much sway. They need to switch up their tactics.
As mentioned, the Swoosh holds the majority of the basketball shoe market. Adidas, however, has done a great job of closing that gap. They are constantly bringing new people on board, and had 80 NBA athletes at their peak. They currently sit around 50, which is just as impressive.
Many greats have worked with the brand over the years. In fact, Kareem Abdul Jabbar was the first to champion their shoes, and they’ve shown an impressive amount of staying power since that time.
The biggest recent move they made was when they poached James Harden in 2015 by shelling out an impressive 10-year, $200 million deal for the three-shooting wing. That didn’t just get them a big player, it showed other high-profile names that they were serious.
Since that time, Donovan Mitchell, Damian Lillard, Trae Young, and Kristaps Porzingis all came over to the brand. They also had Zach LaVine under a multi-year contract until his deal ran out and he switched over to New Balance after the end of the 2021-22 season.
The reason Adidas has made such large strides over the past decade is their ability to bring in some of the big stars noted above. To do that, they’ve expanded their selection of signature shoes. A brand deal is one thing, but athletes love the chance to have their own sneaker.
Currently, the German brand has the same number of signature shoe athletes as Nike (five). Those are the aforementioned Harden, Mitchell, Lillard in addition to Derrick Rose and Trae Young.
Looking at those athletes, Adidas is hoping Trae Young will be the future of the brand. Lillard also is under a huge 10-year $100 million deal that will run through 2024 and Rose, despite being extremely far removed from his NBA season, sells well in China.
It’s a great combination for the brand that covers many different markets. They continue to diversify and will only branch out more and more with time.
Adidas might not have the same prestige as the likes of Nike and Reebok, but they’re getting much closer. They’ve been bringing in top NBA players for a while, and it’s finally paying big dividends. They don’t go after a ton of big names, but they have a good mix of big and small.
The shoe brand’s strategy is not something everyone employs, and that’s why they stand out. Adidas has always made great sneakers, and the more athletes they can get to wear their stock, the more they will grow.