Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving & LeBron James Are Team Nike
A large number of the NBA’s top superstars don their own signature Nike sneakers. .
Nike is one of several companies that works with Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant. The relatively new KD14 sneakers are one of the most in-demand basketball models out there right now.
KD’s teammate, Kyrie Irving, also has a lucrative contract with Nike. In 2019, it was reported by Forbes that the seven-time All-Star’s shoe deal with Nike is worth $11 million. The same article by Forbes stated that Durant’s Nike deal was for $26 million.
Despite their recent struggles, several NBA betting sites list the Nets as the favorites to win the 2022 NBA Championship.
They’ve been struggling without Kevin Durant, who’s sidelined with an MCL sprain Furthermore, All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, who’s unvaccinated, isn’t eligible to play in home games because of New York state mandates. In short, there remains plenty of adversity to overcome.
You can’t discuss NBA players who wear Nike sneakers without mentioning Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James. The four-time NBA Champion signed a mammoth $90 million shoe deal with Nike shortly before the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted him first overall in 2003.
Having spent nearly two decades as the face of the NBA, it’s no wonder that James’ sneakers have been a hot seller for Nike.
Milwaukee Bucks franchise face Giannis Antetokounmpo and Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic are two other prominent NBA players who wear Nike sneakers.
Young Stars Lined Up Jordan Brand
Air Jordan has been one of the world’s most popular shoe brands since its inception in 1984. Such is life when you get the basketball GOAT, Michael Jordan, to front the product.
Several of the game’s elite young players, including Luka Doncic (Dallas Stars) Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics) and Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans) have proudly represented the Jordan brand.
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Phoenix Suns All-Star Chris Paul are also part of the Jordan Brand team.
Kawhi Leonard Led The New Balance Wave
Two-time NBA Champion Kawhi Leonard has stayed away from the more popular basketball shoe brands such as Nike Air Jordan and Under Armour.
During the 2018-19 season — his only one with the Toronto Raptors — Leonard signed a lucrative shoe deal with New Balance. Previously, the two-way superstar had donned sneakers from Jordan Brand.
Back in 2018, ESPN’s Nick DePaula reported that Leonard turned down a four-year, $22 million extension offer from Jordan Brand. He wasn’t a free agent for very long, as New Balance moved in quickly to reach a deal.
Although financial terms weren’t released, DePaula noted at the time of the deal that New Balance “likely” offered Leonard “significantly more than $5 million per year.” Soon after the two sides reached an agreement, New Balance released the OMN1S.
Leonard continues his rise to legendary status throughout the 2018-19 season. He guided the Raptors to their first ever NBA Championship in 2019, as they took down the dynastic Golden State Warriors in six games.
Leonard was named the NBA Finals MVP, five years after earning the same honors for the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals. In the 2019 offseason, Leonard signed with the hometown Los Angeles Clippers.
The Clippers are coming off their first trip to the Western Conference Finals in franchise history. Leonard hasn’t played at all this season as he continues to recover from an ACL tear he suffered in last year’s postseason. If he returns for the playoffs, the Clippers will be one of the prime favorites to win the 2022 NBA Championship.
Needless to say, Leonard’s mega deal with New Balance paved the way for other NBA stars to strike endorsement deals of their own with the shoe-making giant.
In November 2019, San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray announced that he too had signed a shoe deal with New Balance. Murray is in the midst of a career year with San Antonio, having just earned his first All-Star Game.
He’s not the only “Murray” with a New Balance deal, however.
Just over a year later, Denver Nuggets star guard Jamal Murray confirmed that he had also joined the New Balance family.
With a future Hall of Famer and two of the game’s marquee young guards signing these contracts, the road has been paved for current and future stars to also land deals with New Balance.