Giannis Antetokounmpo has announced his decision to re-sign with Nike in a long-term sneaker deal with the company.
Antetokounmpo started his career with Nike and became a sneaker free agent at the end of September. He announced his decision via Twitter, citing “Family. Loyalty. And Legacy,” as the reasons he re-signed with the company.
This decision from Antetokounmpo comes after he had five different brands chasing him, including Adidas and Li-Ning. Adidas even gave Antetokounmpo a truck filled with their boost products in an attempt to coerce him into signing with the brand.
This deal for Antetokounmpo is expected to come with an increase in branding opportunities with Nike as well as his own signature shoe line with the company.
When he does get a signature shoe, he’ll be the 22nd athlete in Nike’s history to have a signature shoe with the brand. That’s rare territory for Antetokounmpo considering that thousands of players have come and gone through the brand over the last few decades.
Antetokounmpo is a welcomed face back at Nike
With everything the company has gone through over the last few months in its battle with Adidas and the shortcomings of the Jordan Brand, it needed a few wins to end the year. Antetokounmpo certainly counts as a big one. Adidas was heavily interested in Antetokounmpo as the potential high-flying wing player to top off their roster. They don’t believe in Andrew Wiggins’ potential enough to give him a signature sneaker deal and don’t have another huge star ball handler on the roster outside of James Harden and Damian Lillard. The brand just signed Zach LaVine, but they see him as a low-risk investment with a potentially high reward — nothing like Antetokounmpo, however.
They’ve got Kristaps Porzingis and Joel Embiid on the roster, but having ball handlers is important for brands because they have eyes on them for a majority of the game. Antetokounmpo is unique because he’s able to shift between handling the ball and playing a big man role. Plus, he’s able to do crazy things on the basketball court like this.
This was a no brainer for Nike — they couldn’t let him get away.
Nike also makes sense for Antetokounmpo
The writing seemed to be on the wall with Antetokounmpo and Nike. He never stopped wearing Kobe’s shoes this season.
This is the company that he started his career with and the company he seemed to be most comfortable with. Antetokounmpo sighted loyalty and family as two of the reasons he re-signed with the brand. It seems Antetokounmpo was looking for something he was used to.
Nike has supported Antetokounmpo throughout his career. They’d also already started featuring him in different marketing campaigns last season. Antetokounmpo has preached loyalty early on in his career every step of the way. He says he wants to stay in Milwaukee and win a title there, and it looks like he’s taking the same path with Nike.
Nike basketball is finally making strides again
They made strides in lifestyle with “The Ten” collection, but their basketball catalog still leaves a lot to be desired. Basketball products aren’t really selling well still, but it’s still important for brands to build up their catalog with athlete endorsers and signature sneakers.
Basketball performance’s failures don’t mean that signature athletes aren’t needed, though, Matt Powell of the NPD Group told SB Nation. “If the category ever comes back, you need to have a stable of athletes that can market the brand,” he said. It’s probably best not to pay athletes huge amounts of money like Antetokounmpo is likely being paid, he said, but having signature athletes is still important.
Will the category ever return to its former glory? It’s tough to say. Brands have to make a product that performs well for players and looks good enough for people to casually wear. Nike has concentrated on doing that with its last few signature sneakers. LeBron James’ newest sneaker has fashion value — here he is showcasing the shoe at a KITH fashion show during New York fashion week.
And here’s what that shoe looks like up close.
This was all part of a Yeezy-like rollout for Nike basketball that had James and his associates showcasing the shoe through various social media channels. We’ll probably see Nike do the same with Antetokounmpo.
And people still go crazy over Paul George’s PG1 and all of it’s colorways.
It didn’t have the same fashion week rollout as James’ newest sneaker, but players love the way it performs.
Ok listen someone give me PG1 connect please. https://t.co/aUaSJErEYH— Brandon Jennings (@brandonjennings) April 3, 2017
Nike can do the same with whatever shoe they’re creating for Antetokounmpo. They have a chance to get creative both on and off the court. He’s an incredible player who can shape-shift in the middle of a basketball game. Plus, he’s adorable off the court and his family values connect so well to a common person.
Nike desperately wanted Antetokounmpo back, and now they have them. He probably won’t be able to bring performance basketball back to where it was for Nike, but this is a start.