There has been no cease fire in the “Sneaker Wars,” and a new battle is being fought over NBA superstar James Harden. Adidas has offered Harden a $200-million deal over 13 years, according to ESPN sources, with Nike (NYSE: NKE) given a week to match the offer.
Adidas’ move for Harden is clearly an effort to keep up with Nike in the chase for exciting NBA players. Adidas boasts Derrick Rose, John Wall, Damian Lillard and Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins, but Nike has LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Paul George and Kyrie Irving. Nike's Jordan Brand signed Russell Westbrook to a deal in 2012, and his first Jordan Brand shoe was released in July.
Harden is considered a highly marketable player. With his flamboyant beard and his stellar perimeter play, the 25-year-old Houston Rockets guard has inked sponsorship deals with Foot Locker, Samsung and Bloomingdale’s just to name a few.
Under Armour (NYSE: UA), who has made inroads in establishing themselves as a shoe titan, have reigning MVP Stephen Curry and recently added rookie Emmanuel Mudiay.
“Nike is obviously very established in the footwear market. Under Armour is coming up. And I think that they’ll continue to take market share,” Susan Anderson, FBR Capital Markets senior vice-president, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Friday.
“I think sneakers will be very hot. There’s a number of new basketball launches coming out for back-to-school. And I think the two hottest up-and-coming players – Irving, which is Nike sponsored, and then Curry, which is Under-Armour-sponsored, will continue to drive their footwear sales.”