With NBA All-Star weekend fully upon on us now, brands have taken the initiative to really bring their best work and creative ideas to create a fun and event-filled atmosphere for everyone in New York City for this weekends events. For a brand such as Nike, who already endorses four different athletes under the Nike Basketball umbrella (Kobe, KD, LeBron, and most recently Kyrie) some may wonder, who is next in line for a signature shoe?
Many have speculated that next for Nike Basketball will either be James Harden, Paul George, or even third year man Anthony Davis. All very solid choices for the Nike Basketball brand. All versatile players for their respective teams. But only one can have a signature shoe, or can they? For a brand like Nike who had at least 15 different signature shoes for athletes in the NBA during the late 90’s, times have since changed. With the recent addition of Cavs guard Kyrie Irving to the list of signature athletes for Nike Basketball, Harden’s window may be closing. Although Nike has done Special Make-Up’s for Harden that have released to the public, such as carrying the Crusader and Run The One franchises, and most recently the Nike Zoom HyperChase which is releasing at All-Star Weekend, nothing has been cemented as far as a Harden signature line goes.
As Nick DePaula breaks it down via Twitter:
Harden, who is having an MVP level season, definitely should be in the running for a signature shoe, but from which brand? Take a look at the picture above. With Harden’s Nike contract being up in Fall ’15, he could potentially sign with a different brand. After signing his 2-year short term deal with Nike , he knew his image and overall package would blow up (which it has) and was a very smart move on his part. He has been featured in over half-dozen Footlocker commercials, has been recognized by Nike for his ‘Fear the Beard’ campaign, and seems like an over-all personable guy. However, some argue if he would be able to push a signature shoe line at Nike, which is a very interesting topic to be considered. In my opinion, I don’t believe he would be able to sell enough if he were to get his own signature shoe at Nike. I also think that not many people would really go out of their way and want to go out and buy a ‘James Harden signature shoe’. Although his stock is really high right now, he plays in a smaller market in Houston, and with Nike already having 4 different sig athletes, it would seem like a risk their not willing to take right now. Currently, Nike has him, and other various players in the NBA under contract by Nike as “Team Players” meaning Nike realizes their star value and potential, yet doesn’t want to give them a sig-shoe, so they release Player Exclusives of a Nike Basketball silhouette shoe to the public.
And I totally agree. Four signature sig shoe athletes for Nike Basketball is a great number. It gives the brand more flexibility to expand on its team and Player Exclusive line. It’s something Nike created in the mid-2000’s with Jermaine O’Neal, releasing some of his Nike Shox PE’s, then moving on to the Footlocker House of Hoops releasing a number of various PE’s around 2007 while still having Kobe, LeBron, and KD lead the force for signature shoes. Then moving on to the Nike Air Force 25 in 2008, where they had a whole team assembled to lead that shoe. Some may think Harden should get his own sig from Nike Basketball (and I definitely feel like he is deserving), yet I just don’t think the timing is right.
So what does this mean for Harden then, you may ask? It means that after his Nike contract ends next fall, he will really have more leverage with either Nike or other brands who are interested such as Under Armour, Chinese brands like Anta or even adidas Basketball (although I don’t see him going to adidas Basketball). He would have leverage to talk with other brands for the opportunity to get a signature shoe as well as some big time money by switching brands. I don’t expect Nike to drop him a signature shoe in the meantime, just because his contract is up soon. So, Nike will probably still continue to put out PE releases for him since the shoe designs themselves are already done for Summer/Fall ’15. Until them, time will only tell. Harden’s stock will continue to sky rocket and many other brands will soon try to jump on board and most likely throw out obscene amounts of cash to him. Could his time with Nike be coming to a close within the year? Uncertain at this point, but expect the brand to still do big things with him including various promos and ad’s.
And the man has a point.