On this episode of The HoopsHype Podcast, Alex Kennedy is joined by Michael Sykes, who writes about sneakers for USA TODAY’s For the Win (including his newsletter “Kicks You Wear”). They discuss how sneaker sales have plummeted recently, what impact “The Last Dance” is having on Jordan Brand, the sneaker-brand landscape, how shoe companies influence NBA moves and more. Time-stamps are below!
:35: Footwear, as a whole, is projected to plunge in revenue by 79 percent due to the pandemic. And adidas is projecting a 93 percent decrease in first-quarter profits. Michael discusses the state of the sneaker industry.
4:00: Jordan Brand recently released the ‘Fire Red’ Jordan 5s when the first episode of “The Last Dance” premiered and they sold out in minutes. Is there a gap between Jordan Brand and all of their competitors? And how is “The Last Dance” impacting Jordan Brand?
9:45: Even before this pandemic, sneaker sales were dropping due to the popularity of athleisure shoes. Michael talks about this and whether the basketball-shoe market is cyclical.
15:20: Michael discusses how sneaker culture has blown up and become more mainstream in recent years (and how the internet and social media have played a role in that).
18:05: There are so many sneaker brands aside from Nike, adidas and Jordan Brand (such as Under Armour, PUMA, New Balance, AND1, Converse, Li-Ning, Anta, Peak and Q4). With this landscape, is this the best time for players to become sneaker free agents?
19:40: Michael would love to see a notable NBA player create his own shoe brand and do it right because he’d make so much money. He also discusses why it would be somewhat challenging.
26:15: With Joel Embiid’s upcoming signature shoe with Under Armour and Zion Williamson’s big deal with Jordan Brand, could we see sneaker companies change how they feel about big men and whether they can sell shoes?
31:30: The Chinese shoe companies like Li-Ning, Anta and Peak typically offer players the most money, so that they can compete with juggernauts like Nike and adidas. Michael discusses whether we’ll see more and more players take the payday and sign endorsement deals with these companies.
35:50: One NBA general manager told HoopsHype that today’s players are often more loyal to their sneaker company than their NBA team. Michael discusses this and whether it’s true.
39:20: Alex and Michael talks about how sneaker companies impact NBA free agency and the draft. Not only are players given incentives if they join big-market teams, their pay is sometimes reduced by as much as 20 percent if they land in certain smaller markets.