The German athletic brand has made an offer to sponsor James Harden for a reported $200 million over 13 years, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell. The Houston Rocket guard, known for his distinctive facial hair, was one of the most popular players during the last NBA championships, where he played with talent and heart.
Harden had a deal with Nike that recently expired. Adidas would not comment on the terms of the offer it made to Harden, but confirmed that it had invited Harden to join its roster. And Nike did not respond to a request for comment.
Adidas is the NBA’s official uniform supplier, but will pass that torch Nike for the 2016-17 season.
Nike might not want to lose Harden, especially in light of losing NBA’s championship MVP Stephen Curry to Under Armour in 2013. Nike still has Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder and may not feel like it needs to get into a bidding war for Harden. The problem with Durant is that he’s been plagued with injuries and meanwhile, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant (who are also in the Nike family) appeal to an older generation. Harden would probably want a multi-year deal, although it’s not clear he’ll be able to play at the same level as he ages.
Adidas, for its part could use a popular player such as Harden. “His connection with fans is unparalleled and unprecedented and he can take the game, our brand and the industry to new heights,” said Michael Ehrlich of Adidas.
Harden had been outfitted with two low-cut Nike shoes, Run The One and Hyperchase, but no signature shoe. Adidas might well offer him an opportunity to have his own signature shoe. Ehrlich went on to say, “We’re a brand of creators and he truly embodies what that means with his approach to the game, his look and his style on and off the court. He’s coming off a historic season where he was voted MVP by his peers and earned First Team All-NBA honors.”
It also doesn’t hurt that Harden has been linked to Khloe Kardashian. Khloe’s sister is Kim Kardashian, married to Kanye West, who moved his Yeezy line from Nike to Adidas. Khloe has over 28 million followers on Instagram and Kim has over 41 million.
Plus, the Rockets have a strong fan base in China, which may appeal to Adidas. Former Chinese player Yao Ming played for the Rockets and Jeremy Lin played two seasons for the Rockets.
Not everyone in Houston is happy with the thought of Adidas shoes on their star player. Talk of the Adidas curse abounds. Derrick Rose of the Bulls signed an Adidas deal and then got injured. Dwight Howard, also with the Rockets, has a deal with Adidas but missed 41 games last year with injuries. However, curse-believers typically gloss over the fact that all the players wore Adidas uniforms last season.