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LeBron James the new Michael Jordan for Nike? Lifetime deal makes it seem so

Sudhir Bose
1.03K   //    08 Dec 2015, 14:49 IST

The LeBron 11 Terracotta Warrior 
The LeBron 11 Terracotta Warrior 

Stephen Curry might be number one in terms of merchandising across the US, but athletic apparel giant Nike have stood by their guns, or one big gun rather, by signing a lifetime deal with LeBron James

The deal, which is believed to be the first exclusive lifetime endorsement, is rumoured to be the largest single athlete deal in history. LeBron signed with Nike for a 7-year, $90 million deal just prior to the NBA Draft in 2003, which was the largest at the time.

The American corporation confirmed the new through a statement,”We can confirm that we have agreed to a lifetime relationship with LeBron that provides significant value to our business, brand and shareholders. We have already built a strong LeBron business over the past 12 years, and we see the potential for this to continue to grow throughout his playing career and beyond.”

The man of the hour, LeBron, had this to say on the deal,”I'm very humble, man. It's been an unbelievable time for myself and my family, and I'm just grateful that Nike and [Nike founder] Phil Knight and everyone over there just believed in a skinny 18-year-old kid from Akron, Ohio, and I'm happy to be a part of such a great company.”

According to ESPN, a source who is familiar with the negotiations stated that the deal eclipses Kevin Durant’s 10-year, $300 million endorsement that Nike finalised last year. LeBron has had an eponymous line of Nike-produced sneakers since 2003 and is mulling creating his own brand, akin to Air Jordan, after he metaphorically hangs up his sneakers.

When asked about the possibility of the aforementioned, LeBron said,”We'll see when we get to that point. If it makes sense for both parties, then we'll do it. If not, then we won't. We've done a great job of building my brand to this point.

We want to just continue it. If it makes sense for us to have a `Team LeBron,' or whatever the name will be, we'll take a look at it and we'll go from there. It's a partnership between us. It's not an endorsement deal. It's a partnership where we always come together and figure out the best way possible for both brands to be successful.”

Other sports majors have had official lifetime contracts with athletes, such as Adidas with Derrick Rose and David Beckham and Reebok with Allen Iverson. Nike’s Air Jordan brand, which is considered to be a lifetime deal, what with 30 versions of the shoe having been released, has recorded more than a mind-boggling $2.2 billion in shoes!

LeBron answered questions about him signing a lifetime deal even when his retirement’s not in the foreseeable future, saying,”"Because I don't want to go nowhere else. I'm Nike and swoosh for the rest of my life.”