What if: LeBron signed with Adidas
In 2003 LeBron was not far from signing with Adidas instead of Nike.
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Would Adidas be the dominant shoe brand in the NBA today?
Only a decade ago, one of the biggest shoe deals at the time would create a sizemic shift in the branding powerhouses for basketball. LeBron James, fresh out of high school, signed a seven-year, $90 million deal with Nike.
This was a decision that was questionable at the time because the youngster had yet to play in an NBA game and because Kobe Bryant had recently broken off his deal with Adidas and was looking for another monster shoe deal, most likely with Nike. However, Nike locked up LeBron (and would sign Kobe not long after) making him the new face of Nike shoes. Adidas had Tracy McGrady at the time, Reebok even had Iverson, but Nike didn't have a major face to replace Jordan until they signed LeBron.
This decision would go down as a great one for Nike and for LeBron as Nike has become a dominant name in the NBA today, signing the likes of Bryant and Kevin Durant.
What if LeBron never did sign with Nike and instead signed with one of Nike's biggest rivals, Adidas?
After LeBron's senior season in high school and after he declared that he would forego playing college ball and would head straight to the NBA, talks with both Nike and Adidas heated up. Both sides seemed to have a good shot at the young stud. Adidas had sponsered LeBron's high school team, giving them new jerseys, sweatbands, and shoes so they already had a connection to LeBron, but ultimately signed with Nike.
But what if he hadn't?
For a long period of time after 2003, Nike dominated the shoe market. Kobe and LeBron were a dynamic duo, and although Adidas has rebounded nicely more recently having signed guys like Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, and even more recently, young studs like Derrick Rose and Damian Lillard, if they had been able to sign LeBron back in 2003, it might be Adidas that would be dominating the shoe market.
In 2003, had Adidas signed LeBron, Nike would have felt even more pressure to sign Bryant as to ensure they would have a face of their brand other than Vince Carter to move into the future with. It isn't likely that Nike would not be relevant today. They still would have signed Kobe, probably to an even more lucrative deal, and would have ensured that he was the new face of Nike. But Nike would definitely not be sitting so pretty without LeBron.
Had LeBron signed with Adidas, my feeling is that a great rivalry would have been born between the two players, not only as two of the best players of their time, but because they were signed with rival brands fighting for the same market. Yes, there is a bit of a rivalry already between Kobe and LeBron, but being on opposite sides of the two major basketball shoe brands in the world could have only spiced things up even more.
With James, Adidas would have had a new face to their brand that would most likely still be there, possibly even luring guys like Durant and Carmelo Anthony to sign with the brand. It is very likely that it would be Adidas, not Nike that is the premier basketball shoe brand in the NBA today.
It's hard to imagine LeBron being the face of Adidas, wearing the three stripes on every pair of his shoes. The "Swoosh" just seems right. But in reality, it isn't too far-fetched to think of the possibility that LeBron could have easily signed a lucrative deal with Adidas, not Nike, back in 2003.
Photo Credit: WENN