Houston Rockets guard James Harden is currently the hottest free agent on the market…let me rephrase that, his feet are the hottest free agents on the market. His deal with Nike expired and it is rumored that Adidas offered a 13-year/$200 million contract to the bearded basketball player.
It’s an insane amount of money just to advertise on a player’s feet. I could see LeBron, Durant, Kobe and a few other elite players, but I don’t believe Harden is in the same category as those players. I don’t see a Harden signature shoe flying off the shelves.
I understand Adidas has to overpay basketball talent to wear their shoes, since Nike is ‘cooler’, but shouldn’t they just roll the dice and sign a bunch of up & coming rookies hoping one or two of them get crazy popular?
I don’t want to discount Harden’s popularity. He is extremely popular and his beard is a nice marketing tool…but maybe I’m too much of a basketball purist to really buy-in on Harden. He’s a ball hog that doesn’t play defense.
Adidas doesn’t have many top-tier NBA player shoe sponsorships. They got Derrick Rose early, but after multiple knee operations, that investment doesn’t look great. They have Tim Duncan, but he’s not exactly a ‘sexy’ player. “Hey mom, can I get a pair of Adidas so I can post-up like Tim Duncan?” No kid will ever say that.
Here’s a small sample of some of the best players with Adidas shoe contracts.
- Joakim Noah
- Serge Ibaka
- Andrew Wiggins
- Ricky Rubio
- Harrison Barnes
- Damian Lillard
- John Wall
They have done a decent job of getting some recent high draft picks to sign with them, but time will tell if signing Shabazz Muhammad, Ben McLemore, Marcus Smart and Joel Embiid will pay off in the end.
If I were Adidas, I would just keep the cash they earmarked for Harden and throw it at Wiggins to keep him on Team Adidas. The only thing that hurts him is that he plays in Minnesota. His play is flashy and should help sell shoes. Giving $200 million to Harden will be dead money for Adidas in less than five years.
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.