Heat F LeBron James has worn the new Nike Lebron 11 shoes "for only two full games" so far this season, "spending most of his time on court wearing last year's LeBron X model," according to Sara Germano of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. James "on a few occasions" started a game in his latest shoe "but partway through switched into last season's model." During Tuesday's game against the Pistons, he "sported a version of the older LeBrons from the opening tip." James' manager Maverick Carter said that the issue "isn't that the star doesn't like the latest edition of his shoes." Carter added that James instead has been "making tweaks to the shoe and expects to return to wearing the 11s full time in a matter of weeks." Carter said of the shoes, "It's not that they hurt. It's just to make the shoe exactly perfect." Nike in a statement called the LeBron 11 "one of the most innovative Nike basketball shoes to date, and we look forward to LeBron stepping back on the court in his latest signature shoe soon." Germano notes none of this "seems to matter to Nike's fans." SportsOneSource data shows that unit sales of LeBron 11 sneakers "are up 18% so far this season over sales of the LeBron X over the same period a year ago." Revenue collected from the 11s is "up 35% over that period, owing in part to a slight price increase" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/6).
ALL ABOUT THE MONEY? CNBC's Jane Wells on Thursday spoke with Lakers G Kobe Bryant about his new Kobe Elite 9 sneaker and his other endorsements. Wells asked about Bryant's endorsement of Turkish Airlines "which seems an odd fit" and said to Bryant, "Is it just the money?" Bryant: "Turkish Airlines wants to do some pretty innovative things in terms of how they provide service for their customers." Bryant said before signing with them, "We did our research and you really track well here in Turkey and it really makes sense in terms of how you grew up and the world kind of being a smaller place for you because you've traveled abroad and kind of have that influence" ("Street Signs," CNBC, 12/5).
In Florida, Evan Williams reported the Florida Gulf Coast Univ. men's basketball team's trip to the Sweet 16 last year "attracted new retailers" to the school. Ft. Myers-based skateboard maker Aerial Action Sports and Scream Guitars were "added to FGCU's list of licensees for the fall semester." Scream Guitars Founder Kurt Kiehnle said, "As soon as Dunk City came to be and they won all those games, I went and applied for a license." Williams notes FGCU students "frequently skateboard to class" (NAPLES DAILY NEWS, 12/6).
SIBLING SUPPORT: ADWEEK's Tim Nudd notes several players from MLS NYC FC's "high-powered sister club" -- the EPL's Manchester City -- recently filmed "some nifty promos" in support of the MLS expansion team. A video recently debuted on YouTube showing players "juggling and kicking a ball back and forth, while trying not to let it hit the ground," around famous N.Y. landmarks. The idea "came from Man City's marketing team" (ADWEEK.com, 12/6).
DA COACH'S DOMINION: SPORTS ON EARTH's Dan Pompei noted ESPN analyst Mike Ditka is "earning seven figures in endorsement income." Fans can "purchase Ditka Polish sausage, Ditka Cabernet Sauvignon, Ditka cigars, Ditka flags, Ditka pens and pencils, Ditka lapel pins and Ditka bobbleheads." Depending on the time commitment, Ditka "usually commands between $30,000 and $75,000 per appearance, and his agent Steve Mandell says he could be booked every day if he wanted to be." Ditka "has cross-generational appeal" as much as anyone. Old timers "think of him as the player they wished they could be." To many of the baby boomers, he is the "most memorable coach of their lives," and even kids who "have no idea of his life story come up to him and tell him they loved him as Will Ferrell's costar" in "Kicking and Screaming" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 12/5).
GOLDEN RULE: Golf HOFer Jack Nicklaus said of why he got back into the golf ball business, "I think part of it is part of our brand, part of it is the golf ball business. The golf ball is very confusing for somebody to walk in a place where you buy golf balls, it's very complicated." Nicklaus: "The method that we are using, selling most of the golf balls through nicklaus.com, through the Internet, is not a conventional way of doing something. ... We are able to sell a golf ball ... basically at a wholesale price" ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 12/5).