NBA Players' Popularity Booms, Driving Value Of Marketing Opportunities
The business of basketball "goes way beyond the hard court," as the "real money is made off the court," as reported by ESPN's Darren Rovell in an examination of salary and endorsement opportunities for NBA players. The top players make the most of their money "out of their endorsement portfolio from shoe sales, and the basketball shoe business is exploding once again." Heat F LeBron James, Thunder F Kevin Durant and Lakers G Kobe Bryant "all make between" $10-20M per year from Nike, but off-court income is not just from shoe deals. Players now more than ever "are brands, raking in millions of dollars." Game Seven Marketing President & CEO Justin Leonard said, "This is the first time in the NBA's history that you've had this big of a number of players that you know are very marketable and are performing at such a high level." Leonard added a brand like Turkish Airlines signed Bryant because "for them, the most marketable athletes are basketball players." Leonard: "The NBA is obviously now a global game and when you're a company from overseas and you're trying to tap into that market, you're going to go to the top guys." Rovell noted basketball players have "become the new curators of cool, stepping up their fashion game." Leonard: "These guys are now brands in and of themselves. They like to tell their story on the court with their performance, and it's equally as important to maintain that personality off the court." The Britto Agency President & CEO Marvet Britto said, "What determines stardom for an NBA player is how he's able to leverage his on-the-court play with his off-the-court persona. Most players that are passionate and are able to differentiate themselves from other players tend to grow large, global brands" ("Nightline," ABC, 6/19).
FINE CHINA: In L.A., Jamie Wetherbe reported photos of a statue of Bryant in Guangzhou, China, "popped up on Twitter" on Monday. The statue "appears to be outside the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts' Sculpture Museum" (LATIMES.com, 6/18). CBS Sports Network’s Doug Gottlieb said that the statue of Bryant is there because of Nike and the “power of the swoosh." Gottlieb said of Nike, “They were ahead of the curve in terms of investing in China as a place where you could sell shoes. ... China is where the money is. It’s an emerging market and Nike has smartly invested in Yao Ming and of course, Kobe Bryant and other stars go over there on a yearly basis. This is all about the power of the swoosh” (“Lead Off,” CBSSN, 6/18).