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Volume 24 No. 117
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Shoe Brands Making Pitch To Antetokounmpo To Earn Next Sneaker Endorsement Deal

Bucks F Giannis Antetokounmpo is "spending the week walking through brand pitches from companies looking to position him as the future of basketball," according to Nick DePaula of ESPN.com. As he and his family "walked through a modern rented loft in downtown Milwaukee for Adidas' presentation, the 6-foot-11 forward became fixated on the figures along the walls of the entryway -- Muhammad Ali, Arthur Ashe and Jesse Owens." Each has been "aligned with the brand through the course of history, and as Adidas framed it, Antetokounmpo could be next in the lineage of global game-changers who impacted not only their sport, but also left a legacy of social impact." Ultimately, brands are looking for Antetokounmpo to "lead his own signature line of sneakers." In conversations with Adidas, Nike and Li-Ning, each is "offering a signature shoe that would likely launch" during the '18-19 NBA season. Adidas "made sure to mention several times that just this week it overtook Jordan brand as the No. 2 sneaker" in the U.S. Antetokounmpo's current Nike endorsement deal is "set to expire" on Sept. 30. Nike, which ultimately "holds a 'right to match' clause on any endorsement deal offer that Antetokounmpo is presented, held its meeting in a more low-key conference room at a downtown hotel." Its pitch was "centered around the fact that Antetokounmpo would become just the 22nd player to ever receive his own signature sneaker with the brand." Li-Ning "remains a dark horse." The company's last major signing was then-Heat superstar Dwyane Wade in the fall of '12, but it is "looking to refresh and re-energize its roster of athletes" (ESPN.com, 9/21). Antetokounmpo earlier this week was sent a truckload of shoes from Adidas, and ESPN's Michelle Beadle said it seemed "like a waste" to send that many shoes. ESPN’s Marcellus Wiley: “This is not the climate right now to give a guy that many pairs of shoes.” Beadle said Antetokounmpo would likely end up donating the shoes, especially if he "signs with someone else, (because) he can’t wear it anyways” ("SportsNation," ESPN, 9/21).

CLASH OF THE TITANS? In Portland, Clare Duffy wrote Adidas' move past Jordan Brand is an "impressive leap by the brand that at this time last year held" just 6.6% of the market share by dollar amount. Data from the NPD shows that Adidas "now owns" 11.3% (more than Jordan's 9.5%, but still well below Nike's 37%) (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/21). Also in Portland, Jeff Manning noted the development "illustrated Adidas' tremendous resurgence and also the weakness of the basketball shoe market, a traditional strength for both Nike and Jordan." It is "undeniable that Nike is no longer the unchallenged titan of the industry" (Portland OREGONIAN, 9/22).