James Harden

50 Most Marketable 2017 - James Harden

James Harden


Athletes from across the world have been ranked according to their marketing potential over a three-year period from this summer.

  • Value for money
  • Age
  • Home market
  • Charisma
  • Willingness to be marketed
  • Crossover appeal

American, 27, Basketball

A familiar face with an offbeat style

Representatives: Landmark Sports Agency

Key partners: Adidas, BodyArmor, BBVA, Stance, Ferrara Candy

2016 ranking: 42


James Harden has fully embraced his new role as the Houston Rockets’ undisputed on-court leader. After the departure of Dwight Howard to Atlanta last summer, the 27-year-old guard found himself free to shine, and shine he did. Over the course of another bucket-fest of a season in the National Basketball Association (NBA), Harden inspired the Rockets to a fifth successive play-off berth and put himself in the frame for the league’s top individual award once again.

As instantly recognisable as he is a wonderfully gifted basketball player, Harden has the commercial profile befitting an established star. ‘The Beard’ is estimated to rake in some US$20 million a year from endorsements alone, much of that coming from Adidas, which launched his first signature shoe - said to be one of the brand’s fastest-sellers - in December. 

“I can say right now he is the best player in the league.” - Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks.

Whether he’s lip-syncing in a Travis Scott music video or appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Harden’s crossover appeal is unquestionable. With a quirky, offbeat style, the gold medal-winning Olympian’s hipster-fresh likeness has been used to hawk everything from socks and underwear to gummy confectionary, and even inspired an illustration project by the Croatian artist Filip Peraić. ML

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