National Basketball Association (NBA) superstar LeBron James has committed to a lucrative lifetime partnership with US sportswear giant Nike.
Although financial terms were not disclosed, a source told the ESPN website the deal far surpasses the 10-year, $300m (€277m) agreement fellow NBA star Kevin Durant, of the Oklahoma City Thunder, has with the company.
In a statement, Nike said: “We can confirm that we have agreed to a lifetime relationship with LeBron that provides significant value to our business, brand and shareholders. We have already built a strong LeBron business over the past 12 years, and we see potential for this to continue to grow throughout his playing career and beyond.”
James, who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers, first teamed up with Nike in 2003 as a teenager and signed an initial seven-year, $90m contract which was extended for a further nine years in 2010. Since then, 13 versions of his signature shoe have been made and it is a line of products that has proved immensely popular. For 2015 alone, sales for his line are expected to top $400m.
James told reporters: “It’s been an unbelievable time for myself and my family, and I’m just grateful that Nike and (Nike founder) Phil Knight and everyone over there just believed in a skinny 18-year-old kid from Akron, Ohio, and I’m happy to be a part of such a great company.”
Under James’ new agreement, a signature brand similar to that of ex-NBA star Michael Jordan’s could be developed. Jordan has been a partner of Nike since 1985 and his Air Jordan line of basketball shoe is now on to its 30th edition.
The 30-year-old James admitted he would be open to the possibility of launching a similar brand but refused to be drawn on the subject.
“We’ll see when we get to that point,” James added. “If it makes sense for both parties, then we’ll do it. If not, then we won’t. We’ve done a great job of building my brand to this point. We want to just continue it. If it makes sense for us to have a ‘Team LeBron’ or whatever the name will be, we’ll take a look at it and we’ll go from there.
“It’s a partnership between us. It’s not an endorsement deal. It’s a partnership where we always come together and figure out the best way possible for both brands to be successful.”
Maverick Carter, James’ business partner, will manage the deal. The agreement comes after US media company Time Warner last week invested $15.8m in Uninterrupted, the multimedia network for sports lifestyle content created by James and Carter.
Time Warner made the investment through its Warner Bros. Entertainment and Turner Sports divisions. Turner Sports is an existing partner of Interrupted, with Time Warner stating the additional capital will allow the growing athlete point-of-view platform to develop exclusive content, enhance its brand, expand to additional platforms, and further engage potential partners.