23 Mar 2015

Air Jordan 2010 and its Jordan brand

I am a senior editor at Forbes and focusmainly on the business of sports and our annual franchise valuations. I also spend a lot of my time digging into what athletes earn on and off the field of play. I’ve profiled a bunch of athletes that go by one name: LeBron, Shaq, Danica and others. I also head up our biennial B School rankings, our list of America’s Best Small Companies and our annual features on the Best Places for Business (metros, states and countries). I joined Forbes in 1998after working 3 years at Financial World magazine. NikeiD shoes are 40 50% more expensive than their off the shelf counterparts according to Matt Powell of SportsOneSource.

The NBA’s two biggest stories collide Thursday night when Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks face off against LeBron James and the Miami Heat in south Florida. Rumors are swirling that President Barack Obama and/or former President Bill Clinton will be at the game. Don’t count on it as Clinton attended Sunday’s Heat game and Obama’s schedule has him in Orlando tonight. Yet the idea that two presidents might show up speaks to the hype around the game.

While the NBA has cashed in on the Lin frenzy, the sports world has been waiting for Nike’s next move regarding Lin. Nike signed Lin in 2010 and is the one company he has a relationship with. His Nike deal is similar to most NBA shoe deals for non stars, which include free gear and little cash.

Lin visited Taiwan last summer for Nike for basketball clinics in two cities. He shot training videos for Nike basketball last summer (see clip below). He’ll visit China and Taiwan this summer on behalf of Nike according to Nike CEO Mark Parker. Nike won’t comment beyond this on its plans for Lin.

The first Nike brand “Linsanity” t shirt hit Foot Locker stores nationwide at the end of last week. But what about a Lin sneaker? The pictures floating Air Jordan 2010 around the internet of a supposed Lin Nike shoe are not the real thing, but a Lin themed shoe is in the works. Don’t expect it in stores this weekend when Lin plays in the Rising Stars game Jordan 8 Retro for TeamShaq during All Star weekend in Orlando.

“You want to do this while he’s hot,” says Matt Powell, Air Jordan 8s who tracks the sports merchandise market for SportsOneSource. But Powell warns that these things take time to get on shelves. He thinks the fastest they could get something out to the mass market is 30 days if they fly the merchandise in from Asia, instead of Nike Air Foamposite One the usual boat trip.

A Lin sneaker this year will not be a signature shoe along the lines of the LeBron 9 for LeBron James or Kevin Durant’s Zoom KD IV. These shoes take months to design, manufacture and ship from Asia. Lin’s shoe will be a variation on Nike’s existing Hyperfuse sneaker that Lin is already wearing according to Powell. A Lin specific Hyperfuse sneaker will likely incorporate some combination of the Knicks blue and orange colors, Lin’s name and his 17 jersey number.

Signature shoe deals are rare in the NBA with three each at Nike (James, Durant and Kobe Bryant) and its Jordan brand (Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade). Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard have them with Adidas and John Wall with Reebok. Wall’s deal is worth $25 million over five years and is on the low end for these contracts. James and Bryant both net Air Jordan 14s more than $10 million annually from Nike.

A new dramatically more lucrative Lin/Nike deal is likely on the horizon if Nike wants to expand its use of Lin in any marketing campaign. Reports of a contract extension already being signed are false according to CNBC’s Darren Rovell. A new shoe deal will likely propel Lin to among the NBA’s top earners when it comes to endorsement income. basketball shoe market according to SportsOneSource. Lin is not going to move the needle on that. He can help in China, where Nike rang up $2 billion in revenue in its fiscal year ending May, 2011. It wants to double that figure for 2013. Linsanity can help get them there.

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