He MVP may have eluded him in the NBA 2014-2015 season, but as far as Adidas is concerned, Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden is a hot commodity.
And to prove how much they value Harden, the sports apparel company has offered him a lucrative $200 million, 13-year endorsement deal just so he will not renew his deal with Nike which has recently expired.
ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell said the offer "is so significant that it represents half of what the brand paid for 11 seasons as the NBA's official uniform supplier." The offer eclipses the bidding war involving Adidas, Nike and Under Armour for the services of Kevin Durant in 2014.
From Rovell: "A $200 million offer is huge, considering it represents half of what the brand paid for 11 seasons as the NBA's official uniform supplier. Earlier this year, Adidas announced that it would not fight to renew that deal, which will see its competitor Nike take over after the 2016-17 season.
"With incentives, if the deal is consummated, Harden could very well make more from Adidas in the coming years than the Rockets. Harden signed an $80 million contract extension with Houston in 2012 that goes through the 2017-18 season.
"Despite having the NBA deal, Adidas has slipped in recent years due to a lack of individual basketball stars. In 2012, the company signed a massive 14-year deal with Derrick Rose, only to see him miss plenty of action because of knee injuries. Its other star is Damian Lillard, whose Portland Trail Blazers aren't really showing much promise. Endorser John Wall shows plenty of flash, but his first signature Adidas line fell relatively flat this year.
"With Stephen Curry locked up by Under Armour and Kevin Durant choosing to stick with Nike last season, Harden is the only veteran whom Adidas could poach -- even if it means overpaying. This past year, Adidas fell to the No. 3 best-selling apparel brand in the United States, after being passed by Under Armour."
Adidas has issued a statement confirming the offer. "We've invited James Harden to join Adidas," said Adidas spokesman Michael Ehrlich in a statement. "We're a brand of creators and he truly embodies what that means with his approach to the game, his look and his style on and off the court. He's coming off a historic season where he won the scoring title and was voted MVP by his peers. His connection with fans is unparalleled and unprecedented and he can take the game, our brand and the industry to new heights."
Adidas has already signed up three of the top point guards in the NBA, including Derrick Rose, Damian Lillard and John Wall as well as Andrew Wiggins in its roster to promote its sneakers, but none of those players have translated their endorsements to increased sales, said Forbes. Indeed, Adidas has not been able to keep pace with its rivals, particularly Nike and Under Armour.
The report added that Under Armour already dethroned Adidas as the No. 2 most saleable sports apparel in the U.S. in 2014 with Nike being on top. And with Nike aggressively trying to maintain its top spot and Under Armour growing more popular at such a fast pace, Adidas needs a major marketing push to keep up.