In the NBA and competitive sports in general, signing a shoe deal is an indication of the player's marketability. Shoe deals have always been linked to basketball, but Michael Jordan revolutionized the shoe game with the Nike Air Jordans.
Although the Jordan brand is a subsidiary of Nike, it now stands alone and features an exclusive list of players rumored to be handpicked by His Airness. While the Jordan brand is perhaps the most exclusive, Nike has some of the greatest active NBA players on their roster.
Top five NBA players with Nike deals
Nike is the most popular shoe brand worn by NBA athletes. About 70% of the players in the league wear Nike-branded sneakers, but only a few have custom lines.
Some of the biggest NBA players you can think of are signed to the Nike brand. To many, these deals represent a larger chunk of their yearly income.
On that note, let's take a look at the top five NBA players who have had major deals with Nike.
#5 Kyrie Irving
If you've ever watched Kyrie Irving play, you can easily see why brands would be interested in making him their ambassador. His excellent handle and explosiveness have made him one of the most fun players to watch in the NBA.
Uncle Drew signed a four-year deal with Nike worth $8 million per year in his rookie season. The Brooklyn Nets guard renewed his contract in 2014 to earn $11 million per year and also unveiled his first signature shoe.
However, Kyrie has expressed his displeasure via social media on the Kyrie 8 that was scheduled to be released. With his seven-year extension coming to an end soon, it is unclear if he will remain a Nike ambassador.
#4 Giannis Antetokounpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo is arguably the most dominant big man in the NBA since Shaquille O'Neal. His come-up has been extraordinary as he is perhaps the most deserving NBA Most Improved Player in recent years. Since winning the award in 2017, his career has been on an upward trajectory as he has won two MVP titles, one Defensive Player of the Year award and an NBA Finals MVP award.
Nike were quick to identify with the rising star when they signed him in 2013 but truly brought him into the fold in 2017. The new contract was for $10 million per year. Giannis is also the 22nd NBA player to have a signature shoe with Nike. They played into his "Greek Freak" moniker and created the Nike Air Zoon Freak 1 which was released in 2019.
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