LeBron James is still chasing Michael Jordan, but he is clear and away the best thing going right now.
We’re not talking NBA legacy. We’re talking shoes.
LeBron moves more signature shoes than anybody else in the NBA — twice as much as any active player. Whether in Miami or Cleveland he is still the king of endorsements and moving product.
Nike sold $340 million worth of James’ signature shoes in the last 12-months through January, up 13% from the prior year, according to SportScanInfo. It is nearly double the amount of the NBA’s second best seller, Kevin Durant….
There are more iterations of James’ shoe than any other player and his shoes are widely distributed, which helps boost sales. His sneakers are also huge sellers with kids. James earns an estimated $20 million a year from the $30 billion-in-sales Beaverton, Ore.-sports giant. Durant’s KD signature line of sneakers had sales of $195 million in 2014 for Nike, up 11% from the prior year. This follows a meteoric 400% rise in 2013 when Nike flooded the market with the popular KD VI….
The biggest gainer among NBA players with signature shoes was Kobe Bryant. The Los Angeles Lakers’ guard has been a linchpin for Nike for years in China, where Bryant is adored. His U.S. shoe sales more than doubled last year to $105 million, up from $50 million, despite Bryant missing most of the past two seasons with injuries.
Of course, Jordan and the Air Jordan brand are still the undisputed champs. The Jordan Brand sales were up 17% in 2014 to $2.6 billion — to 58 percent of the market. Chris Paul is the highest earner of active players on the Jordan brand, with $32 million in sales of his signature shoes.
The other interesting note is that Nike now owns 95.5 percent of the shoe market with Adidas slipping to a 2.6 percent share. Their biggest name, Derrick Rose, has battled injury which hasn’t helped (although Damian Lillard is on the rise for them, with his first shoe having hit the market in January). This is why Adidas is getting out of making the official NBA apparel and jerseys to shift their focus on this market.