With the blockbuster Kyrie Irving trade to the Boston Celtics now complete, I began to think about was how it could affect Kyrie’s signature shoe line with Nike. Irving’s stock has risen both on the court and off in the eyes of a basketball fan/consumer, thanks in large part to his performance in the 2016 playoffs and this championship winning shot.
While his former teammate LeBron James has dominated the shoe market since entering the league, Irving’s shoe like with Nike quietly gained a prominent following during the shoe’s early years because of its many colorway options/partnerships (Krispy Kreme below) and being one of the cheaper signature shoes ($120 on Nike.com).
The Kyrie shoe series’ sales have also showed that being the “sole star” of a team does not affect sales, given that James and Irving have been on the Cavaliers for three seasons now. The same can also been seen for Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, who even though they were both Golden State Warriors this past season, still were #3 and #4 in signature shoe sales respectively.
The NBA is now at a stage where the belief is that TWO star players (minimum) is required for a team to win a championship. This has led to movement amongst top players around the league, especially players with Signature Shoe deals, which would have been unheard of just a decade ago.
Look below at the Ten NBA Players with Signature Shoe lines with Nike/Jordan, adidas or Under Armour and how each player has or is rumored to be moving to a new team, just in the last two seasons! –
LeBron James – Nike – Cleveland Cavaliers (Rumored to leave in 2018)
Kevin Durant – Nike – Golden State Warriors (Left Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016)
Kyrie Irving – Nike – Boston Celtics (Traded from Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017)
Paul George – Nike – Oklahoma City Thunder (Traded from Indiana Pacers in 2017)
Carmelo Anthony – Jordan – New York Knicks (Currently Rumored to be on the Trading Block – Houston/Portland)
Chris Paul – Jordan – Houston Rockets (Traded from Los Angeles Clippers in 2017)
Derrick Rose – adidas – Cleveland Cavaliers (Left New York Knicks in 2017; Traded from Chicago Bulls in 2016)
Kobe Bryant – Nike – Retired last season (Los Angeles Lakers)
Damian Lillard – adidas – Portland Trail Blazers
James Harden – adidas – Houston Rockets
Stephen Curry – Under Armour – Golden State Warriors
This means that over half of the top NBA stars have had a new place to call home over the last couple seasons. That is not even counting the Signature Shoe lines of ANTA (Rajon Rondo, Sacramento to Chicago to New Orleans), Li-Ning (Dwayne Wade – Chicago from Miami) and Beta (Dwight Howard – Houston to Atlanta to Charlotte), respectively.
It is clear that the current shoe consumer does not care whether Signature Shoe lines are given to players that are the “clear leaders” of their team and carries the entire franchise to success. The only one from the list above that you can seriously consider this scenario for is Lillard, but unfortunately, his club is not good enough to reach the top-tier of the Western Conference right now. Perhaps Irving has such an opportunity, if he is considered the “leader” in Boston opposite of Gordon Hayward. The media and pundits say so, but we won’t know until the season starts in October!
Overall, I thought this was an interesting observation within the Sports Marketing segment, given that I wonder how these shoe companies will react in their marketing initiatives when such trades occur. For example, with Paul George traded to the Thunder, where he is clearly the second option behind Westbrook (signed with Jordan, but no signature shoe yet), how will this affect his PG1 shoe line and the company will advertise it compared to the Kyrie or LeBron lines?
The landscape of the NBA continues to change, but all of the movement by the league’s star players has not seemed to affect signature shoe sales in the way I would have thought. Now we shall see if the Kyrie shoe line separates from the rest of the pack, depending on how Irving performs in Green and White.
Thanks for reading!