LeBron signs another massive Nike endorsement

NBA superstar LeBron James has signed a new deal with Nike.

NBA superstar LeBron James has signed a new deal with Nike.

James, who is out of contract at the Cleveland Cavaliers this summer, signed a seven-year, US$93 million deal with the sportswear company in 2003, after a bidding war for his signature.

News of the extension was broken by CNBC's Darren Rovell. The deal is thought to be longer than the original contract, but not necessarily worth more in guaranteed payments.

"LeBron James is one of the world's best basketball players and a global sports icon that has transcended generations and cultures," Nike spokesman Kejuan Wilkins said. "Nike's relationship with LeBron has created innovative basketball products and captivating campaigns. We're proud to continue our partnership with him for years to come."

Maverick Carter, chief executive of marketing company LRMR and a trusted business partner to James, refused to be drawn on whether the new endorsement contract had a ramp-up clause that would activate should James complete a much-hyped move to the New York Knicks this summer.

"Our relationship with Nike is more than a shoe deal," Carter said. "It's more like a joint venture — meaning we are working to build a business. His latest shoe, the LeBron VII designed by Jason Petrie is the best selling shoe we've ever had in LeBron's line."
Insiders, however, believe that a New York clause is not in the new contract. Instead, James is believed to have been offered a significant slice of royalties on his own line.

As Darren Rovell opines, the new Nike deal could have a significant bearing on where James ends up this summer. If he is to fully exploit his new deal, moving to a New York market might not be the best option.

'Perhaps going to New York would sell more shoes,' Rovell writes, 'but he'd likely sell more shoes in China and other emerging markets, where volume really counts, if he wins championships. One of the reasons why James is far behind Kobe Bryant in China is that he isn't revered as much because he doesn't have the rings that Kobe has. In that case, it might make more sense for James to stay in Cleveland, who made it to the Finals in 2007 under James and, at 58-16, have the best record in the NBA.'