Feb 1, 2020; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the second half against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Kyrie Irving has not always made basketball his top priority over the past two seasons, and that could cost the Brooklyn Nets star one of his biggest endorsement deals in the near future.
Irving’s signature shoe deal with Nike is set to expire after the 2022-23 season. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne reported on Friday that Nike is unlikely to extend Irving to a similar deal due to “uncertainties surrounding his NBA future.”
Irving, who has had his shoe deal with Nike since 2014, has a new edition of his sneaker coming out in the fall. That one could be the last.
A Nike spokesperson told ESPN that the company does not comment on contract speculation and that Irving “remains a Nike athlete.”
Nike will likely still offer some product or products associated with Irving, according to ESPN. It sounds like the apparel juggernaut is simply hesitant to continue with the lucrative deal Irving has had for nearly a decade now.
Irving has a $37 million player option with the Nets for next season. Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks appeared to send a strong message to Irving when discussing the star point guard’s contract situation this week.
Irving was unavailable for much of this past season due to his COVID vaccination status. The year before, he stayed away from the Nets for a while for personal reasons. All of that has created uncertainty about his future, and Nike is probably evaluating the situation for the same reasons the Nets are.
Magic Johnson remains the gold standard for professional athletes turned businessmen. But even he has made decisions he would like to have back.
During a promotional appearance this week for McDonald’s, the retired Los Angeles Lakers great shared his one enormous business regret — choosing to sign with Converse over Nike in 1979. Johnson had been offered options in Nike stock to sign with them but chose the cash that was being offered to him by Converse instead.
“I never heard of stock at 19 years old, so I took the money,” Johnson said. “You know, usually [you think] ‘I gotta take this cash!’ Man, I would’ve been a trillionaire by now. You think about 1979, getting that stock then and what it’s worth today? Yikes! So that kills me every single time I think about that. I’m like, ‘Man, Michael Jordan would’ve been making me so much money.'”
Johnson’s infamous decision was depicted during a recent episode of HBO’s “Winning Time.” The Basketball Hall of Famer, who is being portrayed by actor Quincy Isaiah, was shown meeting with Nike co-founder Phil Knight. In the episode, Knight offered Johnson $100,000 in Nike stock options as well as a $1 royalty for every shoe sold. The show ran a graphic estimating that Johnson cost himself $5.2 billion by turning down that offer.
While it is hard to gauge how accurate the numbers given by the show were, we know Nike had its IPO (initial public offering) in Dec. 1980, debuting at $22 per share. Since then, Nike stock has split a total of seven times on a 2-for-1 basis each time. That means someone who purchased just one share at the time of Nike’s IPO would own 128 shares today. Nike’s closing price on Wednesday was $127.49, meaning that the one IPO share would be worth over $16,300 (not even counting the quarterly cash dividend Nike has paid to shareholders since 1985 and any such reinvestment of those dividends). It is also probably safe to say that Johnson would have owned a whole lot more than just one share of Nike if he had accepted their offer back then.
Granted, it is tough to fault Johnson for his choice as he was just a teenager at the time. Converse was the big dog on the porch during those days, and even Jordan was seen as taking a risk when he signed with Nike five years later in 1984. Johnson also got to star in some memorable Converse commercials with Larry Bird and other NBA stars.
Converse Commercial with Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Kevin McHale, Mark Aguirre, Bernard King & Larry Bird
Johnson, who now has an estimated net worth of over $600 million, has also succeeded with many other business ventures. He has several cash-cow investments (including his ownership stake in the Los Angeles Dodgers and his investment company Magic Johnson Enterprises, which owns countless businesses and franchises). Now 62, Johnson has made sure to pass on his business acumen to the next generation of NBA stars as well.
Photo: Mar 23, 2018; Omaha, NE, USA; NBA former player Magic Johnson watches during the first half between the Clemson Tigers and the Kansas Jayhawks in the semifinals of the Midwest regional of the 2018 NCAA Tournament at CenturyLink Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Nike will be able to continue manufacturing new Kobe Bryant gear thanks to a new agreement between the apparel company and the estate of the late basketball star.
Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s widow, shared a statement on her Instagram account Thursday to announce the partnership renewal news.
“We’re excited to announce our partnership with Nike is going to continue!” Vanessa wrote. “I am so proud that my husband’s shoes are still the most worn by players on NBA courts and that the demand for his shoes remain so desired by his fans around the world. With this new partnership, fans will soon be able to have access to Kobe and Gigi Nike product for years to come and with Nike donating 100% of the net proceeds yearly for Gianna’s shoes to our Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation (M&MSF). I am also grateful that Nike and I will work together to establish a youth basketball center in Southern California that will share the Mamba Mentality with youth athletes for generations to come. I know this is an inspiring moment for my husband and daughter’s global fans, and I am very appreciative of each and every one of you!
“With Gratitude for every fan around the world supporting Kobe and Gigis Legacy,
As Vanessa mentioned, terms of the deal include Nike working with the Bryants to establish a youth basketball center in Southern California.
Kobe and his daughter, Gigi, were among nine people who died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020.
Bryant initially began his pro career by endorsing Adidas. But he later signed with Nike in 2003. Nike has created numerous models of Bryant’s signature shoe line.
Photo: Apr 13, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) reacts against the Utah Jazz in the first quarter at Staples Center. Bryant concludes his 20-year NBA career tonight. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
A Nike shoe that was designed to honor Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna has recently somehow leaked, and Vanessa Bryant is extremely upset over the situation.
In an Instagram post on Thursday, Vanessa explained that she designed the shoe in honor of Gianna. She said the sneaker was going to be called the “MAMBACITA” but that she never approved it for sale. Vanessa also said Nike never sent her or her family any pairs of the shoes and asked for help in figuring out how they leaked.
“This is a shoe I worked on in honor of my daughter, Gianna,” Vanessa wrote. “It was going to be called the MAMBACITA shoe as an exclusive black and white colorway on her daddy’s shoes. I picked the colors in honor of her uniform, the number 2 she wore just like her uniform, the inside pattern, Kobe and Gigi on the back in gold instead of Kobe’s signature, the inside shoe details (butterfly, wings, halo), etc. The MAMBACITA shoes are NOT approved for sale.
“I wanted it to be sold to honor my daughter with ALL of the proceeds benefitting @mambamambacitasports foundation but I did not re-sign the Nike contract and decided not to sell these shoes. (The MAMBACITA shoes were not approved to be made in the first place). Nike has NOT sent any of these pairs to me and my girls. I do not know how someone else has their hands on shoes I designed in honor of my daughter, Gigi, and we don’t. I hope these shoes did not get sold. @nike.”
You can see Vanessa’s full post below, which includes a photo of the shoe:
One Instagram user who shared photos of the shoe last month says he does not have a pair in his possession. The user, whose handle is brandon1an, claims the leak came from an authorized Nike dealer.
“I just want to make it clear that I don’t own a pair of those Mambacita Kobes,” the Instagram user wrote, via TMZ. “The pictures I posted are official product pictures from a Nike authorized retailer. Unfortunately for @vanessabryant, Nike clearly sent pairs to this retailer (as well as others) with the intent of selling pairs.”
Kobe Bryant’s long-standing association with Nike appears to be over.
According to ESPN’s NBA sneaker expert Nick DePaula, Bryant’s wife Vanessa, who controls Kobe’s Trust, decided not to renew her late husband’s contract with Nike. DePaula says the partnership between the Bryants and Nike is “done.” It is unclear if this is temporary or permanent, but for now, there are no plans for any further Bryant-related merchandise releases by the company.
At 6:36 AM today I received a text:
“Vanessa Bryant did not renew contract. Kobe and Nike are done.”
I’ve been working since to confirm what this means ahead for the Nike / Kobe Bryant partnership.
Bryant had been with Nike for 17 years leading up to his death in January 2020. It was recently claimed that Bryant had been planning to leave Nike prior to his passing and start his own shoe company. Perhaps that is what Vanessa plans to do in an effort to comply with her late husband’s wishes.
It’s still surprising to hear about Bryant’s association with Nike ending. He was, after all, famously loyal to the brand during his career.
Deshaun Watson has been sued by 22 women who claim they were sexually assaulted by him, and the Houston Texans star is now facing his first major consequence from the allegations.
Nike announced on Wednesday that it has suspended its endorsement of Watson amid the sexual assault scandal.
“We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and have suspended Deshaun Watson,” the company told CNBC’s Jabari Young in a statement. “We will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
Watson is one of the NFL’s biggest stars and has numerous endorsement deals, so Nike’s decision could start a domino effect among some of the quarterback’s other partners.
The decision from Nike comes a day after two of Watson’s alleged victims publicly revealed their identities. One of the women, massage therapist Ashley Solis, delivered a powerful statement in which she spoke about how Watson’s alleged misconduct has negatively impacted her career and life. You can see the video here.
Kobe Bryant appeared to have quite the ace up his sleeve before his untimely passing this year.
Venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar, a co-founder of Sherpa Capital who has invested in such companies as Airbnb and Uber, revealed a bombshell about Bryant this week. Pishevar tweeted that he met with the Los Angeles Lakers icon in Dec. 2019 to discuss Bryant’s plans to start Mamba, a shoe company that would be owned by players. Bryant was supposedly unhappy with Nike and was planning to leave the brand in 2020. Pishevar also shared details of the meeting and the designs he presented to Bryant.
Pishevar further stated that Bryant was specifically displeased with Nike’s commitment to his shoe line as well as the poor sales numbers.
I met with Kobe Bryant in late December 2019. Kobe wasn’t happy with Nike and was going to leave it in 2020. Kobe was going to start Mamba, a shoe company owned by players. He passed away weeks later. What he was about to do in business was going to eclipse his sports career.
2/ These were the designs my team did to show him that day for an independent Mamba shoe company. Here’s calendar details. There were witnesses to the meeting and Kobe’s plans like Gina Ford, who manages Usain Bolt. pic.twitter.com/PgsIDt0P0E
He wasn’t happy with Nike’s marketing and promotion commitment to Kobe’s line. And the sales of his shoes were anemic and he blamed Nike. He retained tight control because he didn’t trust Nike’s judgment in design.
Bryant’s plans were confirmed by author Pat Benson, who wrote the book “Kobe Bryant’s Sneaker History (1996-2020).” Benson said it was “very likely” that the five-time NBA champion would have left Nike.
“It’s shocking because Kobe was Nike’s golden goose and habitually toed the company line,” Benson told Meredith Cash of Insider.com. “Many of his fans were upset with Nike’s handling of his signature line following his retirement. It feels redeeming that Kobe was unhappy about it too.
“It’s certainly going to make things awkward with Nike in the future,” added Benson. “But it adds to the beautiful complexity of Kobe. Always pushing the envelope.”
Bryant, who passed away on Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash, had been with Nike for 17 years at the time of his death. He became synonymous with the brand, launching several signature sneakers with them and coming out in many memorable advertising campaigns (including appearing as a puppet with LeBron James, seemingly jumping over a speeding Aston Martin, and promoting the “Kobe System” in a series of ads with Kanye West). Bryant had previously been endorsed by Adidas early on in his NBA career.
The Colin Kaepernick workout situation has split many fans, observers and media members into factions. There are those who believe Kaepernick was wronged by the NFL and that the NFL’s workout was just a P.R. stunt. There are those who believe Kaepernick is more interested in furthering his career as an activist than playing football. The events of this week are unlikely to change anyone’s minds based on what they believed before, and probably only strengthened their previous beliefs.
Kaepernick has his media supporters and his team/reps leak information to them. The NFL has their media members of choice and leak information to them.
Charles Robinson has been a go-to media member for Kaepernick’s team and has written several pro-Kaepernick pieces since news of the NFL-backed workout became public on Tuesday. Hearing both sides of a story is important for providing balanced coverage and allowing people to make their choices about what they believe to be truthful and not. Robinson has provided Kaepernick’s camp with a platform and large outlet to share their views. That serves a valuable role.
However, while Robinson can provide his pro-Kaepernick biased pieces, one thing he should strive for is to at least be factually accurate with his platform. He was not on Saturday night on Twitter when he alleged the NFL asserted Nike attended the Kaepernick workout on Saturday to film it.
Robinson said on Twitter that the NFL made an “assertion” that Nike was “on hand to film Colin Kaepernick’s workout.” He even said Nike was trying to get the NFL to retract that statement.
I have a source that has confirmed this. #Nike was not on hand to film Colin Kaepernick’s workout, despite NFL’s assertion. Nike is currently trying to get the NFL to retract that statement. https://t.co/MI4TfIRhNv
This sounds like a big gotcha! moment and more proof of the NFL being wrong and looking to smear Kaepernick and his brand. But there is one big problem: the NFL NEVER said that, so there is no statement to retract.
In the NFL’s statement in response to Kaepernick no-showing their workout and instead handling his own, the league wrote the following:
The third bullet point mentioned Nike and said this:
“Last night, when Nike, with Colin’s approval, requested to shoot an ad featuring Colin and mentioning all the NFL teams present at the workout, we agreed to the request.”
The fifth bullet point also mentioned Nike and said this:
“We heard for the first time last night, around the same time we heard from Nike, that Colin wanted to bring his own video crew. We heard for the first time this afternoon that Colin wanted to open the event to all media.”
The NFL never once said Nike attended Saturday’s workout. All they said was that Nike requested to shoot an ad featuring Kaepernick and that the league agreed to the request. Those are two different things.
If a person asks whether they can bring a friend to the party and the host says yes, does that mean that the friend came to the party? No, it just means that the person asked and the host said yes.
What is so hard about that to understand?
The thing about the Kaepernick story — as this example perfectly illustrates — is that people are seeing what is unfolding for what they want to see. In the case of Robinson, his bias is so strong that he isn’t even representing the facts accurately, which makes him lose credibility.
If he wants to represent Kaepernick’s side of things, that is fine. But at least attempt to be accurate and fair, especially when you have this platform and the influence that goes along with it. At the time of this publishing, his tweet was retweeted by over 1,400 Twitter accounts and liked by over 3,000.
On top of that, after Robinson tweeted to suggest Nike caught the NFL in a lie, Jemele Hill joined in and added it to her story, saying it’s all “part of pushing the narrative.”
Like I been saying. Watch for the hook. This is all part of pushing the narrative that Kaepernick doesn’t really want it https://t.co/WlwiV0NjQu
Hill didn’t even bother to see whether the story was accurate or not. She just took the information and added it to the story she wants to tell, even if it’s not true.
If either of these respected journalists cared about fairness and accuracy — which are key tenets for journalists — then they would issue corrections and retractions to let their audiences know the truth. If they don’t, then their positions will have been made clear: they are slanted activists working to make Kaepernick look good, not to present facts and truth.
One of the NBA’s budding new on-court fashion trends appears to be no more.
In a series of tweets this past weekend, Philadelphia 76ers forward Mike Scott hinted that players were now banned from wearing the ninja-style headbands that catapulted onto the scene last season. The veteran said that objectors should “start a petition” and “send it to Nike,” also tweeting that the headbands were deemed to be “too unprofessional.”
Scott, who was also in the news for less-than-ideal reasons this weekend, was one of several NBA players who started sporting the look last season. Other ninja-style headband enthusiasts included the LA Clippers’ Montrezl Harrell, the New Orleans Pelicans’ Jrue Holiday, the Sacramento Kings’ DeAaron Fox, and numerous others.
Larry Brown Sports reached out to both Nike and the NBA about Scott’s assertion but has not received a response.
The demise of the ninja headband would be a disappointment to many, as they were arguably more visually pleasing than the classic headband look and also allowed players to inject some extra personality into their on-court look. In any case though, this brings to mind the ban that the NBA had previously implemented on upside-down headbands nearly a decade ago.
Nike announced on Thursday that they have named a new building at its World Headquarters (WHQ) after LeBron. The LeBron building is the sixth building that was added to Nike’s WHQ as part of an expansion project that began in 2015.
The LeBron James Building will be home to Nike’s Sport Research Lab. The building will include a full NBA-size basketball court, 200-meter endurance track, 100-meter straightaway, and an artificial turf training pitch.
“It’s so surreal,” James said in a statement. “It’s been an honor to be a part of such a great company for the last 18 years. And to know that a building with my name will reside on campus — it’s truly an honor, and I feel truly special.”