How successful can basketball players shoe lines be? Ranging from projects that crash and burn to ultra-successful Jordans, we’ve seen it all in collaborations between basketball players and shoe companies.
There are currently ~20 players in the NBA (out of 450) who have signature deals with companies. These companies range from Nike, Jordan, and Adidas to K8iros and Peak.
So, what does it take for a signauture deal to be successful? Why do some do well, and some don’t?
Obvioulsy, a lot has to do with name recognition. The best players in the league get deals, and the better the player, the more likelihood for sneaker success. Nobody wants the starter on a poverty franchise’s shoes.
As of 2019, the two players with the highest annual earnings on shoes are Lebron James and Michael Jordan.
Beyond name recognition, style is important. MJ has a multitude of all-time shoes, and shoes like the KD 6 and Kobes were hot for their time and are still in demand.
But what makes a shoe great is the mental association a customer has with the shoe: Jordans are tied to greatness: 6 rings and being one of the best to ever do it. Kobes are tied to hard work and the Mamba Mindset.
Shoes with mental significance like that have the ability to blow the top off of the sneaker industry.
So where are the deals for the good-but-not-GOAT player going to lead? Quite honestly, they might make a few headlines and have some popularity briefly, but most will sputter off.
This applies to the James Harden, Lamelo Ball, and Donovan Mitchell kind of players.
Currently, Ja Morant has jeopardized his deal with Nike by being in the middle of a few incidents. Ja 1 ‘Hunger’ sold out when released on SNKRS on May 25, but if the rumors of suspension are true, the demand will fade.
It will be interesting to see how Ja’s shoes play out and what his ceiling is with a record of misbehaving.