Just because the NBA games stopped didn't mean that the pro basketball marketing machine was waiting for a resolution.
Nike, Adidas and other companies with NBA-related goods and services have kept pretty much to their production schedule. And top players such as Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire had more face time in public places than if they were limited to pre-season practices in nondescript hideaways.
The NBA initially chose to cancel the 2011-12 preseason and the first two weeks of the regular season. But Nike and Adidas did not cancel shoe releases. Among the players who sported new kicks this month were James, with Nike LeBron 9 and an Air Force-themed shoe (which pays homage to the fact that the Miami Heat last year trained at Elgin Air Force Base); Durant with his Nike Zoom KD IV; and Stoudemire’s new Nike Air Max Sweep Thru.
Nike’s Jordan Brand released new shoes from Wade (Fly Wade 2), Chris Paul (CP3.V) and Anthony (Melo M8).
Adidas had a national launch for MVP Derrick Rose’s new kicks, the adiZero Rose 2. It came complete with a multi-media marketing campaign, including a TV commercial featuring Rose in a Madrid bull ring (filmed on location) and a Facebook-based "Where’s Derek" search-and-find with clues leading to an actual pick-up game in Chicago featuring Rose and those who could track him down.
In addition to shoes, companies with NBA and/or hoops-related products were not sitting in the locker room. Mission Athletecare, for example, had D-Wade unveil Court Grip (applied to the bottom of shoes, its creates traction and prevents slippage) and Anthony support the launch of Power Grip (intended to replace talcum and chalk to reduce sweaty hands). Both of these products also came with multi-media support.
And Kia Motors, the official auto of the NBA, launched a multi-media campaign starring Blake Griffin.
Stoudemire may be the athlete who made the most of his time during the NBA lockout. Over the past month, in addition to releasing his new shoe, he has supported the launch of a fashion line created with designer Rachael Roy and made the rounds in New York during Fashion Week (Macy’s, Calvin Klein); supported the launch of "Skylanders Spyro's Adventure" videogame from Activision; put the finishing touches on book he has written for kids, "Home Court: Standing Tall and Talented" (Scholastic); and attended classes at Miami’s Florida International University.
Charities benefitted (literally) from the NBA lockout. In an effort to retain some degree of competitive activity, groups of hoops all-stars organized and played in “lockout games” nationwide. In Miami, the Miami Heat trio of Wade, James and Chris Bosh organized a game at FIU that benefitted the Mary’s Court Foundation, which was established in honor of FIU head basketball coach Isiah Thomas’ mother, the late Mary Thomas, which works with disadvantaged youth and families in Chicago.
Durant hosted a game this past weekend in Oklahoma City along with Blake Griffin, with a portion of the proceeds going to charities supported by the two NBA all-stars.
It wasn't all fun and games, though. Several players took short-term deals with international squads, seeking to fill in the estimated $170 million that NBA players lose collectively for every two weeks of games that are canceled.
Wade, James, Stoudemire and others were participants in the labor talks, following the lead taken by veteran guard Derek Fisher, president of the NBA Players Association.
And, oh, yeah, Kris Humphries married Kim Kardashian.