Milwaukee Bucks power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, the biggest sneaker free agent in the NBA, announced on social media on Tuesday that he has re-signed with Nike. Terms were not immediately available. A key component of the new Nike deal for Antetokounmpo, sources said, is that it also includes the creation of a signature shoe. The process of designing a signature shoe is typically part of a 14-18 month timeline.
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Giannis Antetokounmpo: Family. Loyalty. Legacy. Excited to announce my long-term partnership with @NikeBasketball #FamilyOverEverything #Antetokoumbros #OnAMission @thanasis_ante43 @kostas__ante13 @alex_ante29 @francisadetokunbo
Just as LeBron has been chasing Michael Jordan’s ghost as the game’s preeminent icon, Antetokounmpo is drawing comparisons to James — on the court, at least. Though Antetokounmpo is starting to realize that his exceptional talent makes him a marketable product, his inclinations as a professional thus far bear little resemblance to LeBron Inc. Antetokounmpo will almost certainly be on a first name basis with the public — as much a function of syllables as stardom — but there are few entrepreneurial ambitions. At a recent round of meetings with leading shoe companies, representatives pitched Antetokounmpo by citing their campaigns and brand-building for other NBA stars. Antetokounmpo, according to those with intimate knowledge of the meetings, found the approach perplexing. These stars were his competitors, and the notion of using their brands or personas as a template seemed backward.
Nike has a match clause in its expiring deal with Antetokounmpo, giving the sneaker giant 20 days to match any offer by a competing company. Antetokounmpo said Thursday that he’s not close to a decision yet, but he’s been enjoying the ride.
“All those things are fun,” Antetokounmpo said. “It’s fun to be a sneaker free agent. You get a lot of shoes and you keep a lot of shoes — I give a lot of shoes to my brothers. It’s fun. My family going through that experience with me has been amazing. I want to thank everybody that tried to support me and my family, from Nike, from Adidas, from Li-Ning, all those people that are basically my family. I haven’t decided yet, I’m not even close yet. … I’m not in a rush right now, I’m just focusing on basketball.”
Nick DePaula: If Giannis signs with adidas, Nike still has a “match clause” on the deal. If they pass, he’d likely wear Crazy Explosive Low this season.
Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo is spending the week walking through brand pitches from companies looking to position him as the future of basketball — a sharp rise for a 22-year-old player who only entered the league in 2013 as an unknown prospect from Greece.
In conversations this week with Adidas, Nike and Li-Ning, each is offering a signature shoe that would likely launch during the 2018-19 NBA season. For this upcoming year, he’d lead a series of player exclusive editions in Bucks hues of each brand’s current featured models, like the Adidas Crazy Explosive 2017, Nike Kobe A.D. or Li-Ning Yu Shuai 11.
While the incumbent Nike and potentially poaching Adidas are the two mainstays in the conversation, Chinese brand Li-Ning remains a dark horse to take seriously. The company’s last major signing was then-Heat superstar Dwyane Wade in the fall of 2012, but it’s looking to refresh and re-energize its roster of athletes. The offer the company is expected to make would certainly rank highest among the three pursuing brands at more than eight figures annually. The contract could also possibly feature an equity or stock component.
The “Greek Freak” kicks of a new four-year, $100 million deal with the Milwaukee Bucks next season. Antetokounmpo will also likely be armed with a new shoe deal. He is by far the hottest free agent this summer in the sneaker market and insiders think he could command a deal of at least $8 million annually and potentially over $10 million if everything breaks right. Credit his age, 22, and unique skill set, which has made him one of the NBA’s most alluring young stars.
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