Nike Anoints Durant While Adidas Lands In More Hot Water

Durant in a Nike ad

With basketball shoes the brightest light in footwear these days, Nike is expanding its pantheon. The company has signed Kevin Durant, the Phoenix Suns superstar, to a lifetime contract. He is the third NBA player to receive that honor, preceded only by Michael Jordan and LeBron James.

Durant announced the news with a tweet: “A true honor to be in the game for life with @Nike.”

The rookie Durant first signed with Nike in 2007 and has since released 15 shoes, with the release of the KD 16 just days away.

The deal is said to include footwear, apparel and a philanthropic collaboration promoting community basketball.

“When I first signed with Nike, I couldn’t have dreamed of how far we’d go in this partnership. We’ve done amazing work creatively and philanthropically,” he says in the announcement, reported on Boardroom. “We’ve traveled the world together and built a business that will last forever. I’m excited for the future and honored to be in rare company with this deal.”



He also made news this week for a gracious tweet congratulating Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry for scoring 50 points in a single game, breaking Durant’s record.

Adidas is upping its commitment to basketball, too.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the company said it intends to renew its focus on sports, including spending “hundreds of millions” on a Los Angeles-based home for its basketball products and its Portland, Oregon, U.S. headquarters.

“We want to double down on all of the things that are U.S.-centric, particularly around sport,” Rupert Campbell, the company’s North America president, told the WSJ.

Circana, the market research company, reports that while footwear sales fell 3% in the first quarter of the year, slipping to $9 billion, performance shoe sales rose 2%. Basketball shoes are the fastest-growing segment in that performance category.

The WSJ also reports Adidas is ending its Ivy Park line with singer Beyonce due to disappointing sales and that a partnership with Pharrell Williams’s Humanrace fashion also “underwhelmed.”

And the bad news from its breakup with Yeezy just keeps coming. As Adidas continues to dig out of the $750 million fire sale created when it terminated its relationship with Ye, the musician and fashion creator formerly known as Kanye West, a group of investors is coming after the German company.

In a class-action suit filed in Oregon, they claim Adidas “intended to deceive” investors, ignoring years of troubling behavior from Ye, including racist, antisemitic public comments.

In a statement emailed to the Associated Press, Adidas said the suit is without merit: “We outright reject these unfounded claims and will take all necessary measures to vigorously defend ourselves against them.”

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