NBA Free Agency: Why Nike and China want LeBron James to “Be Like Mike”

June 30th, 2010 by Pat Mixon Leave a reply »
Footwear giant Nike has entered the discussions surrounding LeBron James’ pending free agency and it seems LeBron’s shoe sponsor also has serious motivation for the player to land in a new city. The reason is money driven but also championship fueled.

Nike wants LeBron to win a championship. Until he does, he will never outsell Kobe Bryant. The reason may seem unlikely: China.

The Chinese buy Nike products like a kid in a candy store. But, get this. China values winners. They want excellence. They want champions.  

This is why Kobe Bryant’s jersey continues to pummel LeBron’s and everyone else’s in worldwide sales, even while LeBron continues to rocket in US sales. That’s because any margin LeBron or other players have on Kobe in US sales are negated by the Chinese.

Nike knows this. They want to sell more LeBron shoes. And, they are firmly entrenched in China.  

According to CNBC’s Darren Rovell, Nike has a $400 million basketball operation in China and is experiencing stellar annual growth of about 12 percent to 15 percent, while right now, Nike’s basketball-relate ...

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