Irving is an up and coming player to watch. His first signature Nike shoe was released in December, and it racked up $7 million in sales during its first three months. The profile of the Cavaliers’ point guard has surged with the arrival of James in Cleveland. The Cavs are featured the NBA maximum of 25 times on broadcast partners ESPN/ABC and TNT. “You have to be in front of the public to get things rolling. That is why Kyrie came out of the box strong,” says Annunziata.
The biggest gainer among NBA players with signature shoes was Kobe Bryant. The Los Angeles Lakers’ guard has been a linchpin for Nike for years in China, where Bryant is adored. His U.S. shoe sales more than doubled last year to $105 million, up from $50 million, despite Bryant missing most of the past two seasons with injuries. Credit Nike’s new Flyknit technology, which it incorporated into the Kobe 9 (Nike also pushed the sale price to $200). “Nike continues to reinvent new technologies on a regular basis, and they have instant credibility when they introduce a new technology in basketball,” says Annunziata.
LeBron James remains the biggest endorsement star in the sport with estimated earnings of $44 million this year off the court, and he is still the king when it comes to moving product. Nike sold $340 million worth of James’ signature shoes in the last 12-months through January, up 13% from the prior year, according to SportScanInfo. It is nearly double the amount of the NBA’s second best seller, Kevin Durant. Durant’s KD signature line of sneakers had sales of $195 million in 2014 for Nike, up 11% from the prior year. This follows a meteoric 400% rise in 2013 when Nike flooded the market with the popular KD VI. The low-top version of the this season’s KD7 in flashy colors like teal and pink is a bit hit with female teens, according to SportScanInfo footwear analyst Andy Annunziata, who compiled the sales data for Forbes. Nike made a huge bet on the NBA’s reigning MVP last summer when it inked Durant to a 10-year contract extension that could pay as much as $300 million, including royalties. It is the richest player endorsement deal in the history of sports.
The Warriors celebrated Stephen Curry’s 27th birthday Saturday night with a specialty cake and specialty shoes. The cake was designed to look like the trophy Curry won as the three-point champion at last month’s All-Star weekend, and the shoes had a glow-in-the-dark element designed by Under Armour and were carefully protected by director of team services Eric Housen.
Sols, a 3D printing company, may change how shoes are built for customers. Sols’ goal is to essentially eliminate shoe sizes — with three pictures of a customer’s foot, Sols can create a custom orthotic and from there build the custom shoe. Knicks star Carmelo Anthony is a main investor in the company. The general idea would be that Sols creates the base of the shoe and any leathers on top of the shoe could be created around that base. Have high arches? No problem, Sols will be custom fitted to your specific foot. In between sizes? Once again, it won’t matter because each base of the shoe is custom built.