Under Armour

,FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2015, file photo, LSU's Ben Simmons looks to pass against the College of Charleston during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at TD Arena in Charleston, S.C.  As the Southeastern Conference heads  into league competition, it remains tough to figure which teams stand as defending champion Kentucky’s biggest competition. Simmons ranks second nationally in rebounding (13.0) and fourth in the SEC in scoring (19.3).  (AP Photo/Mic Smith, File)
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Report: Ben Simmons could get $100 million shoe deal as rookie

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It’s simply supply and demand — there are not a lot of guys that move shoes. Guys that can sell shoes get paid.

Ben Simmons, the LSU forward who is the presumptive No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft this June, might be one of those guys. He’s a 6’10” forward with point guard ball skills and vision. (That said, not every scout is sold he will become a franchise cornerstone guy, Rob Dauster of CollegeBasketballTalk and I discussed that in the latest PBT Podcast.)

With Nike trying to hold off Under Armour — who has Stephen Curry under contract — there could be a bidding war that will make Simmons a rich man before he ever sets foot on the court, according to a report from the well-connected Adam Zagoria at www.sny.tv.

Ben Simmons could sign a sneaker deal worth in excess of $100 million as he transitions from LSU to the NBA, an industry source told SNY.tv.

Nike remains the favorite to sign the 6-foot-10 Australian point forward, who is projected as the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, but Under Armour and adidas could get involved to drive up the bidding.

“The number doesn’t astonish me, the number’s been stagnant since LeBron,” grassroots sneaker guru Sonny Vaccaro told SNY.tv on Thursday. “It would be the new precedent because LeBron was the last and [Simmons] has the makings in the mind of the NBA that he could be a great, great player. So that’s basically what they’re saying, he’s going to get a $100 million deal. I would understand that.”

LeBron signed a $90 million deal right out of high school with Nike. He has since signed a $500 million lifetime deal with Nike and that relationship has worked for both sides.

Nike still dominates the market and all things being equal most players — particularly young ones — would rather sign with the swoosh. That said, it’s a business and Nike can’t afford to lose another rising star to Under Armour or Adidas (which inked James Harden last summer).

Good for Simmons. But that’s a lot of cash for a guy with a broken jump shot.

Under Armour to be presenting sponsor of NBA Draft Combine, expand role within league

2015 NBA Finals - Game Three
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Under Armour got its foot in the door with the NBA.

The company has wanted to expand its role with the league — most notably it has a shoe deal with Stephen Curry — but weren’t a lot of opportunities, especially after Nike outbid everyone to take over making the official NBA jerseys and apparel starting in 2017 (Adidas does it now). Samsung is the naming sponsor for Summer League. What was left?

The NBA Draft Combine.

Which will be the Under Armour NBA Draft Combine starting in 2018, the league and Under Armour announced Monday. The company will be allowed to develop and market apparel based on the combine as part of this deal. Also, the shoe company will help market and grow the Jr. NBA, the league’s youth basketball program.

The NBA combine is not a huge marketing event (unlike the NFL version). However, now before guys get to put on an NBA jersey, they are going to put on Under Armour gear.

For the NBA, this is an opportunity to grow their youth program and introduce a new NBA Fit app, which will be tied in with Under Armour’s Connected Fitness devices and products.

“We’re proud to expand our partnership with the NBA and continue our shared commitment to help basketball players everywhere realize their potential, on and off the court,” Adam Peake, Executive Vice President of Under Armour said in a statement.  “The new elements of our partnership will allow Under Armour to leverage our leadership in athletic performance innovation and Connected Fitness to foster the worldwide growth of basketball.”

“Under Armour and the NBA share a commitment to basketball, fitness, and healthy living,” Emilio Collins, NBA Executive Vice President, Global Marketing Partnerships, said in a statement.  “Together we have a unique opportunity to teach the values of the game to millions of kids through the Jr. NBA program, and to give our fans the latest information on exercise and wellness through the NBA FIT app.”

It’s a good effort by Under Armour — there simply were not many options to get an expanded role with the NBA, and certainly not where they could make apparel. But they found one.

They got their foot farther in the door.

Video: Derrick Williams tells you where he is from

Arizona v Connecticut
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Under Armour (which seems to be what the president wears when he plays hoop) learned a great lesson from Nike: Tell a good story in your commercials.

This is the latest in their “Are You From Here?” ads and it features Minnesota’s Derrick Williams. Who is my early pick for rookie of the year (he can finish at the rim and run the court, two things that will get you a lot of dunks playing with Ricky Rubio). Good story, good commercial. Kind of like Brandon Jennings’ better, though.

It’s gotta be the shoes! NBA lockout hurts shoe companies, too

FW11_Rose2_PRFW_Hero_BLK_BLK
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Adidas has Derrick Rose as a matador. Nike is spotlighting that “basketball never sleeps.” They are both still marketing like there is no tomorrow.

But while basketball may never sleep, the NBA is taking a nap right now. And that lockout could hurt major NBA shoe companies to the tune of $500 million if the lockout drags out for a full season, reports the USA Today.

Basketball shoe marketers such as Adidas, Nike and UA, and national retailers such as Foot Locker, could lose up to $500 million in sales if the 2011-12 NBA season is wiped out, says Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at the worldwide market research company NPD Group. That’s roughly 25% of the $2 billion basketball sneaker market, Cohen said.

About 33% of all basketball shoes are purchased to play basketball, Cohen said. That leaves 67% of the sales from consumers going for the association with an endorser such as Nike’s LeBron James— or with the NBA itself, Cohen said.

“The impact would be huge,” he said. ” Out of sight, out of mind. If the players are not on the court, and the kids aren’t thinking about them, they’re not going out and getting their shoes.”

The Jordan Brand, which still dominates the basketball shoe market, will be hurt but ultimately will be fine. However Adidas and Under Armour could feel the pinch more as they try to carve into Nike’s dominance and now have less of a platform to get their message out.

Frankly, everyone would just be better off if the two sides would solve the lockout. But we’ve known that for months and yet here we are.

Video: New Under Armour ad speaks to hoops purist in us

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There may be optimism, but there is still a lockout. I’m sick of writing about BRI splits and punitive luxury taxes. I miss basketball.

So this new ad from Under Armour works for me right now. It features Brandon Jennings, Kemba Walker and Derrick Williams, but it’s the message that works. In that vein, I pass it along.