NBA business is booming and so is the sneaker market. This uptick in revenue make NBA Players a hot commodity to sneaker brands, with several joining the Sneaker Wars with new approaches. Which players stand to gain signature sneakers in the coming year?
The NBA hoops game is growing internationally just as sneaker sales, collaborations, and nostalgia lead to soaring revenues. Specialty sites serving mostly sneaker culture aficionados are taking out ads during major sporting events, mainly NBA games.
The NBA sneaker universe has always been where sneaker culture was most predominate. The Air Jordan 1 is arguably the most recognizable sneaker globally because it is credited with launching the sneaker industry into a new stratosphere. Part of the intertwining of those two worlds is a players signature sneaker.
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In the waning days of 2018, there only 18 active NBA players with signature kicks. New Balance and Puma have some high end NBA ready offering on the way for their high profile signings, but nothing on NBA courts yet.
As the scoreboard now stands, Nike is in the lead with adidas gaining as a strong second in the market, both in sheer numbers and star power. Other brands are coming back to the courts, with an all new game plan. The NBA’s new relaxed sneaker rules for games has been great for all involved.
Lebron leads Team Nike. Kevin Durant is Nike’s number 2. Paul George has found his place in the team both for Nike and the Oklahoma City Thunder. That’s also where Russell Westbrook rocks Team Jordan, owned by Nike. Kyrie Irving is still on Team Nike with Lebron, and has one of the more popular shoes for colorway and fit alone, the price point is just welcoming to parents. Chris Paul also has a line with Jordan Brand.
James Harden leads team adidas, though Donovan Mitchell is a rising star with globally possibilities and ambitions. Mitchell’s new D.O.N. Issue #1 is using coming book themes and naming, extending the NBA sneaker reach even further into the mainstream. Dame Lillard also sports the three stripes, rounding out an effective trio with personalities to match adidas new direction. Derrick Rose resurgence in Minnesota is a reminder of the Nothing Is Impossible days, which sneaker free agent John Wall will need now that his season is done.
Steph Curry leads Under Armour’s basketball incursion, and has done so with mixed results. Having only released a handful of editions, Under Armour is playing is cards close. Until they have some more popular design stylings ready for Curry, there is little reward to the risk of trying to handle two signature lines for a brand new to the game.
Lonzo Ball believed the market was tilted in a way, so he made his own brand, Big Baller Brand, with his dad. Spencer Dinwiddie also moved forward with the self endorsed branding sneaker model, developing K8iros.
Dwight Howard and Tony Parker signing with Peak leads the foreign brands efforts. Rajon Rondo and Klay Thompson are both signed with Anta, while Dwayne Wade reps Li-Ning.
So who can NBA fans expect to see rocking their own signature lines in 2019?
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Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis are the two biggest stars signed to brands but awaiting their own lines. Both Giannis and Davis are in the very selective debate about the next player to take the throne, after Lebron ages out of the gig. (If ever.)
Davis has been an overlooked star for years in New Orleans. Small markets are no longer an excuse, but the lack of playoff moments hurt his potential as a salesman. Davis has been a more soft spoken star with the media so far in his career, though he has stated he will look to be more assertive this season. Davis is quitely becoming more of a headliner, through trade rumors and his signing with Klutch Sports for representation.
Antetokounmpo might be the best player in the league already. He has internationally appeal and a game that draws eyeballs no matter a fan’s loyalty. Unlike some polarizing stars, it is hard to find anyone who would root against Giannis.
Kawhi Leonard’s newest sneaker deal as the face of New Balance basketball means a signature shoe is in the works. New Balance already has Darius Bazley learning the shoe design world while preparing for the NBA Draft. Now New Balance has the prestige of Kawhi along with the potential of Bazley. The first signature shoe will be anticipated, and scrutinized, at a level befitting a Top 5 level NBA star. Slapping a players branding on an existing shoe would be a disappointment.
Joel Embiid has tweeted himself to being the most relevnt young big man in the the game since Shaq. Sure he was injured and other young big men have put up similar numbers, but Embiid is everywhere on social media and killing it. He also has other big men in the game flustered, and his ‘head space’ antics could lead a sneaker campaign. Embiid has been with adidas, but could be on the open market. If Puma had Rihanna sing some praises, perhaps the unpredictable big man would devote some time to a signature collaboration.
Kristaps Porzingis is another big man capable of moving shoe boxes from shelves to the streets and courts every where. Being in New York, being an internationally marketable face, being an All-Star and being an free-speaking European icon all work in favor of Porzingis getting his own line. However, injuries and a team stuck in the basement of the Eastern Conference are marks against the move.
Of course, all the shoe brands are watching Zion Williamson and awaiting the moment the recruiting of the Duke star can begin. Williamson might be able to demand almost anything, including his own shoe his rookie season, and not be scoffed at like brands did to Lonzo Ball.