Drake will reportedly switch his sneaker endorsement from Jordan Brand to adidas, which would be a major splash in the basketball world too.
Not only is he the favorite musician of many modern players, but he has worked with the league in various capacities as well. Whether we are discussing his longstanding relationship with the Toronto Raptors or his recent hosting gig at the 2017 NBA Awards Show, he is more than a casual basketball fan.
Beyond his enormous commercial success as a musician, he is also a wildly influential tastemaker who also carries clout in the sneaker world. After signing to the Jordan Brand in 2013, his own brand (OVO) and Jordan have released collaborations that are among the most popular in their collection.
Kanye West took shots at Nike on the song “Facts” when he released his album The Life of Pablo. West, who worked in some capacity with Nike for years before switching his endorsement deal to adidas, rapped that the brand would have nothing without Drizzy.
Without diving into the merits or flaws of such an argument by West, losing the Toronto-born sensation would be a significant shift for the swoosh. Even though such a decision wouldn’t be critical for a powerhouse that is as strong as Nike, it represents an interesting next step for their competitor.
Nate Jones, an expert in the sports business industry, reacted to the news on Thursday (via Twitter):
“Nike still takes the approach that they are an athletic brand and won’t break the bank for endorsement partners outside of that realm. adidas believes they are a brand of ‘creators’ and pay artists like they do athletes. adidas is also letting these artists build signature categories of products — similar to signature athlete deals … Nike has done tons of collabs with artists, but never really gone in on endorsement deals and signature product with artists the way adidas has of late. Almost all of adidas’ cultural turnaround is directly related to their focus on cultural influencers outside of just athletes.”
As suggested by Jones, the willingness to allow an entertainer like Drake the same privileges and paycheck provided to players could have a truly massive impact on the sneaker game.
Each year that passes, the more we’ll see players entering the league who grew up idolizing Drake. With so much talent in the NBA originally from Canada like Andrew Wiggins or Jamal Murray (who are both signed to adidas) and so many fans around the world, players will eventually wear his inevitable signature shoe on the court – assuming he does indeed make the switch.
Even though Nike took over the apparel deal for jerseys on the court and signed a much larger class of rookies this season, this would be a huge step back in the right direction for adidas.