It’s official – Nike has declined to match the massive 13-year $200 million offer from adidas to James Harden, the Houston Rockets superstar who rose to become the MVP runner-up last season. The decision to move on from Harden was undoubtedly a tough one for Nike, who saw Steph Curry move on to UA and have an incredible break-out season and help the Baltimore brand move up the ranks and actually surpass German brand adidas. Once Harden signs with adidas, he’ll instantly become the brand’s primary marketing asset, leapfrogging their impressive crop of guards in Damian Lillard, John Wall, and even Derrick Rose, a player that many NBA trainers are saying is back to his original, pre-injury form.
Another reason why Nike was okay with letting Harden walk is Paul George. The slashing small-forward is indeed what’s “next” for Nike Basketball in terms of signature shoes and marketing strategy. He was recently out in China, leading the Nike RISE Tour that also featured Nike hoops superstars Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and soon Kevin Durant. PG, despite suffering that horrid injury a year ago, should continue that upward trajectory that hit the national spotlight during the 2014 NBA Playoffs, when he arguably outshined the Miami Big Three on multiple occasions. We’ll bring you the latest on James Harden’s next moves with adidas (it officially begins on October 1st), so in the meantime, let us know if you agree with Nike’s decision to let The Beard be groomed elsewhere.
Official adidas press release:
JAMES HARDEN CHOOSES ADIDAS IN UNPRECEDENTED PARTNERSHIP
Long-Term Deal Includes Extensive On-Off Court Collaboration
PORTLAND, Ore. (August 13, 2015) – adidas today announced an unprecedented partnership with superstar shooting guard James Harden of the Houston Rockets. One of the league’s most prolific scorers and recognizable players begins the long-term deal with adidas which includes an exclusive signature collection, product design collaboration and marketing involvement beginning October 1.
“We’re a brand of creators and James embodies that more than any athlete in the game. His addition to the adidas basketball family is a game changer,” said Chris Grancio, adidas Global Basketball General Manager. “This partnership gives him the opportunity to achieve his goals and express himself in a totally new way as a creator. He’s already one of the most recognizable sports figures because of his game, his look, his hunger to win and his style on the off the court. His ceiling is far from reached, which tells you the future for him and our brand looks incredible.”
“We have a lot of energy in basketball right now and James takes that momentum to a whole new level,” Grancio continued. “James isn’t like anyone else. He approaches the game with a unique mentality and strives to go against convention. When he signed with the Rockets he moved from being the sixth man to the lead man, proving his willingness to establish himself as a resounding superstar.”
To begin the partnership, Harden will play a leading role in adidas’ global brand campaign which will coincide with the start of the NBA season. He will play a critical role with adidas to create and develop on and off-court signature footwear and apparel collections as well as marketing plans. The partnership also includes Harden traveling on extensive brand tours in Europe and Asia.
With the signing of Harden, adidas continues its momentum of partnering with the most talented and influential players in basketball including two-time NBA All-Stars Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers and John Wall of the Washington Wizards, 2011 NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls and Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Using a repertoire of step-back jump shots, staggering drives and bullet pass assists, Harden has cemented himself as one of the league’s most unstoppable offensive weapons. Harden is coming off a historic season where he recorded two 50-point games, topped the 40-point mark on 10 occasions and turned in four triple-doubles. He helped guide the Rockets to their first division title since 1994 and to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 18 years. The Los Angeles native was drafted out of Arizona State University as the No. 3 overall pick of the 2009 NBA Draft and is a three-time NBA All-Star, two-time All-NBA First Team member and the NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2012.
— adidas Basketball (@adidasHoops) August 13, 2015