Adidas once had an affair with superstar Kobe Bryant, but it didn’t last — Kobe fell back into the arms and cushioned soles of Nike. Derrick Rose donned the three stripes of Adidas, but he also donned some casts and crutches: the 2011 MVP couldn’t push the Adidas brand up in the rankings. Nobody can catch Nike, of course, the brand so powerful that Kevin Durant turned down Under Armour’s offer of $265 million and the moon to fly away from Oregon Air. Durant couldn’t go.
Can James Harden? Leave Nike, that is? Adidas just made Harden an offer worth $200 million to be the bearded face and lightning feet of Adidas basketball. Harden’s brand recognition is high — he hangs around with Kardashians, dresses GQ, and has that singular swagger. He’s coming off a season where he willed the Houston Rockets to victory more times than Charles Barkley ate a hot dog. Harden narrowly lost the MVP battle to Under Armour’s Steph Curry, but Harden figures to be in the MVP conversation for years to come. Will Nike match the offer? More importantly, will Harden tell his reps that, big as it seems, $200 million is way less than Durant was offered by Under Armour. (And he didn’t even take it.) James Harden is unlikely to believe that Kevin Durant should enjoy higher status than him.