Even together, though, they still control a smaller percentage of the shoe market than Nike. Darren Rovell of ESPN.com says one of the Reebok assets that was most appealing to the German shoemaker was Yao Ming.
Adidas will also benefit greatly from using Reebok endorser Yao Ming to further capitalize on its business in China. Unlike Reebok, which was just beginning to develop the expensive infrastructure in China so that Yao's value could be realized across the country, adidas has been in the marketplace for 20 years. Now it will have China's most valuable spokesperson at the most important time. Hainer said that with the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, he's convinced that Asia, and China in particular, will be the industry's growing force.
One person who could be a little humbled by this: slick hoops insider Sonny Vaccaro--the man who slathers amatuer athletics with big sneaker dollars like no other. The Reebok employee has been publicly fueding with his ex-employer, Adidas. (His main beef, according to Vaccaro, immediately before his presentation to LeBron James, executives told him oops, in fact they wouldn't have anything close to the $100 million he'd asked for to sign LeBron James). Now Vaccaro has to call them his bosses again.