A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? A billion dollars.
Yes, I watched The Social Network again this weekend, and yes it still rocks.
LeBron James’ Lifetime Nike Deal
Coming out of St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School, LeBron was the most sought after draft prospect on the shoe market in 2003. Adidas offered $60 million, Reebok offered $115 million, and Nike offered $87 million.
James signed with the Swoosh and was the unquestionable first-overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2003 NBA Draft. His first shoe, the Air Zoom Generation, was released prior to his rookie debut in various colorways.
Seven years later, James, the best player in the league, re-signed with Nike in an undisclosed deal. LeBron took his talents to the Miami Heat to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, winning NBA championships in 2012 and 2013.
One. Billion. Dollars.
“I’m very humble, man,” James told reporters, via ESPN. “It’s been an unbelievable time for myself and my family, and I’m just grateful that Nike and [Nike founder] Phil Knight and everyone over there just believed in a skinny-old, skinny 18-year-old kid from Akron, Ohio, and I’m happy to be a part of such a great company.”
The deal is reportedly worth $30 million annually, which could surpass the billion dollar mark by the time he’s 64. At the pace he’s going, LeBron could still be in the league tearing it up with his grandkids.
“Yeah. It’s a fantastic deal,” James’ business partner Maverick Carter told GQ. “Nike feels great about the deal. That’s the most important thing. As great as I feel, as great as LeBron feels—Nike feels fantastic about it. It’s the largest deal in the history of the company. Their hope is he makes even more. And our hope is that, too, obviously.”
The deal is believed to be the first of its kind for Nike. Previously, Kevin Durant‘s 10-year, $300 million deal had been the largest in company history.
The Jordan Brand still reigns almost 40 years after launching, bringing in $130 million annually. Durant ranks third with $26 million. Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry is fourth with his $20 million per year contract with Under Armour.
New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson is seventh and brings in $16 million in a deal with Air Jordan. Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard earns $10 million annually from adidas, which ties him for 10th with Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The 17-time NBA All-Star’s signature shoe is on its 18th iteration. The Nike LeBron 18s were preceded by multiple versions of the Air Zoom and Air Maxes.
LeBron led the Los Angeles Lakers through the pandemic-riddled season all the way to the NBA title last year. His fourth overall, The King has it locked up on and off the court for a very long time.