Ever since Amare Stoudemire arrived in New York City, he's been stacking up new business ventures faster than Phil Ivey stacking poker chips. Let's see … A clothing line, record label, film production unit, TV and movie cameos and several endorsements, including Sheets energy strips and Excedrin headache medicine.
Could a brand-new sneaker deal be next?
On June 26, Stoudemire tweeted, "My shoe deal is about up. I wonder who I should sign with. Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Under armor, or build a company up into a power show company." The following day, he tweeted, "Stay tune to which shoe I choose. It's a hard choice, when every shoe brand Is gr8."
Stoudemire signed a six-year extension with Nike back in 2005, which enabled him to have his own signature sneaker. From 2005 to '08, he wore different versions of the Nike Air Force STAT. But from 2009 to this past season, STAT didn't have his own shoe and he wore player-edition makeups of major models, including the Nike Foamposite Lite (2009), Nke Air Max Hyperize (2010) and Nike Zoom Huarache Trainer (2011).
Now that Stoudemire's Nike contract is up, some wonder if he'll change logos even though "the check" commands the basketball sneaker market, along with Jordan Brand, a subsidary of Nike (see chart below). If he does jump ship -- from a major ship, that is -- to a smaller player, it wouldn't be the first time an All-Star did so. In the past, former player and current NBA on TNT analyst Chris Webber went from Nike to Dada, Baron Davis went from Reebok to Li Ning, Jason Kidd went from Nike to Peak, Tim Duncan went from Nike to adidas and Kevin Garnett went from Nike to And1 to adidas. Three top players are known for improving their sneaker stock dramatically: Vince Carter going from Puma to Nike, Dwyane Wade going from Converse to Jordan Brand and Kobe Bryant going from adidas to Nike.
Basketball Sneaker Sales* Q1 2011
1) Jordan Brand — 65 percent
2) Nike — 28 percent
3) adidas– 2.7 percent
4) Reebok — 2.5 percent
5) Converse — 0.9 percent
6) And1 — 0.9 percent
*In 2010, basketball sneaker sales were $2.5 billion
Since Stoudemire has been thinking big and entrepreneurially since arriving in the Big Apple, don't be surprised if he looks to catapult a growing brand, such as Reebok, which went from a 1 percent control of the market share last year to 2.5 this April, largely due to the success of John Wall's signature sneaker, the Zig Slash. Or, perhaps Stoudemire goes the route Patrick Ewing took in the mid 90s, when he created his own company called Ewing Athletics, which featured athletic footwear and accessories.
A very connected sneaker source I spoke with said that if STAT isn't guaranteed a signature line from Nike, he'll look heavily into Reebok because they're up-and-coming and don't have a main big-man endorser (Wall is a guard). Shaquille O’Neal was their last "centerpiece" who initially put Reebok on the map basketball-wise, and then Allen Iverson followed with his "The Question" sneaker.
At Reebok, Stoudemire would be the go-to guy; not at Nike, especially with Bryant and LeBron James tied down there, and their shoes this past season (the Air Max LeBron VIII and Zoom Kobe VI) sold very quickly off the shelves and did well overall, according to SportsOneSource. Under Armour could also be in the running (their main client now is Brandon Jennings, who's a guard and not widely recognized), but adidas most likely wouldn't be because they already rep an enormous name: Dwight Howard.
The dark horse in the bidding for Stoudemire could be Beijing-based footwear and apparel company Li Ning, which has been turning up the heat on U.S. soil since signing O’Neal several years ago (after his Reebok deal). Li Ning’s key endorsers now are Davis and Evan Turner, and according to another sneaker source, their basketball division is currently looking into signing an elite player to make a bigger splash. Two other Chinese companies to watch out for are Peak and Anta, which recently signed Kevin Garnett to a deal.
By the way, guess who's taking a trip to China soon? That’s right, Amare Stoudemire.
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