The National Basketball Association is a multi-billion dollar business that has a strong influence around the world. There is a lot of money to be made through basketball, weather it be vendors at the games, the ticket sales, the television rights, or the marketing of the players themselves, the league is a cash-cow. As the game of basketball has grown, so has the relationship between the players and various companies, to the point now where the best players are signing very lucrative contracts to become part of there company and part of there marketing plan. These companies (ADIDAS, Nike, Li-Ning) recognized the value of endorsing these athletes, and are now make millions selling signature clothing, signature shoes, and more using the brand that these basketball players built. Players like Lebron James and Kobe Bryant have signed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars just to represent a specific company, and now the marketing department of these companies are looking for the next superstar to become the face of there brand.
James Harden is a 6'5 shooting guard has been in the NBA since 2009, and has grown to become a superstar player and face of his team, the Houston Rockets. Originally joining forces with Nike, Harden was able to grow his own personal brand/image by appearing in commercials and releasing signature gear for all the basketball fans around the world.
Harden's contract with Nike ended this past month, which gave him the freedom to choose which company he would want to team up with next. Harden is every marketing departments dream because he has already solidified himself as an elite player, but also his image (facial hair and competitiveness) is a cant miss for any company.
Harden's agenda for selecting his next endorser is quite interesting, being able to sit down with these massive companies and have them pitch him the marketing plans. Seeing the different financial projections, the different marketing strategies, the different product focuses, there are many different aspects that go into the decision making process.
Adidas recognized the goldmine that bringing Harden to their company would be and offered him a 13 year 200 million dollar deal to join forces, which he agreed to. Nike had a chance to match the contract offer in attempt to keep Harden part of the Nike family. Nike decided not to match Adidas' offer thinking that he would not be worth that much money to the company.
The NBA has turned into a cut-throat business and it is very interesting to see how different aspects of marketing affect the direction of the league. Who knows, soon athletes will be signing $500 million dollar endorsement deals, and it is intriguing to see how the players, the league, and the fans all handle this new channel of marketing.