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How NBA Players Endorse Shoe Brands For Sports Marketing Success

Stacy Jones
Stacy Jones
December 19, 2016 at 10:47 AM

3 minute read

How Pairing A Celebrity Basketball Player With A Shoe Brand Drives Sales

Ever since Nike introduced their Air Jordans in 1984, celebrity basketball players have been the inspiration for sneaker styles all over the world as well as an important part of sports marketing. And, after all, what better way to market a shoe made for basketball than by designing it after a celebrity NBA player? 

Adding a celebrity to the branding of a product is a great way to market it by using their skills, personality or style to sell the product. Sneakers and basketball stars are a natural example of the perfect pairing of a celebrity to a brand, and there has been no shortage of shoes co-inspired by brands and players. In this blog, Hollywood Branded takes a look at how the pairing of celebrities and sneaker companies leads to sports marketing success,and how specifically NBA players endorse shoe brands. 

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Nike - The Air Jordans

Perhaps the most famous case study by far when looking at celebrity NBA players and brands would have to be Nike pairing with the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan. 

Michael Jordan was an American hero. After leading the Dream Team to Olympic victory, as well as breaking numerous records as an NBA player, and even rallying the Tune Squad to victory over the Monstars in Space Jam, Jordan earned his spot as perhaps the most famous basketball player ever

Nike saw his potential, and inked a deal with him even before his rookie season with the Cavaliers. And, in 1984, the legendary Air Jordans were launched. 


Since then, there have been many reiterations of the original shoe, as well as "Jordan" lines inspired by other players. For example, Carmelo Anthony sports the Jordan Melo M12s, and Chris Paul has his own CP line of Air Jordans. 


The brand and its logo are one of the most recognizable in the shoe wear world and continue to grow in popularity, even after Jordan's retirement from the NBA. 

Reebok - Shaquille O'Neal

Shaq is one of the biggest players in the history of the NBA, and has the personality to match. Originally playing as center for the Magic, Shaq played for several teams during his career and is regarded as one of the best centers of all time.

Over the years, he has been the spokesman for several brands including Pepsi, Gold Bond and IcyHot. But one of his most lucrative endorsement deals was with Reebok. Shaq famously rocked the shoe brand and in 1992 the company released shoes named "Shaq Attacks." However, it was the line "Shaqnosis" that found the most success.


Today, Shaq's classic style sneaker is being re-released through Reebok. The retro style targets fans of classic looks and classic players.

Adidas - Derrick Rose

Starting in 2010, the current New York Knicks point guard Derrick Rose endorsed Adidas. The shoe company has released several shoe lines inspired by him including the D Rose 7s and the more classic Adidas adiZero Rose shoes.


Adidas has had several other NBA stars involved with their marketing over the years including Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett and is no stranger to sports marketing on the basketball court.

Converse - Julius Erving

While Converse may no longer be the shoe of choice for NBA players, its Chuck Taylors represent the iconic original basketball shoe style. With short shorts and Chucks on, Erving, also known as Dr. J, rose to fame on the court.

In 1976, Erving signed an endorsement deal with Converse, making him the very first professional basketball player to officially endorse a sneaker. Converse's Pro Leather shoe was his shoe of choice, and a special line of them featured a monogram of his signature in the leather. 


These shoes were dubbed "The Dr. Js" and kicked off the sports marketing tactic of pairing brands with basketball stars.


How Can Celebrities Improve Your Sports Marketing Strategy?

Celebrities can have a huge impact on a brand's recognition and popularity, whether by endorsing a product or even investing in one. Check out our blog on Top Celebrity Sports Investors to see what brands your favorite athletes invest in.

Are you interested in integrating your brand's product with a celebrity but simply don’t know where to start? There is so much more to product placement and celebrity endorsement partnerships than you may think and it is important to be educated about the key tactics to best fit your brand. Download our Product Placement 101 Infographic today to start learning more!

Product Placement & Co-Promotions 101 Guide

Topics: Celebrity Partnership, Public Relations, Sports Marketing

Stacy Jones

Written by Stacy Jones

Stacy Jones, Hollywood Branded's founder and CEO, has over twenty six years of leadership experience building global entertainment branding campaigns for top Fortune 500 companies and hundreds of brands. Her career started after receiving her BFA in Theater Production & Scenic Design from the University of Arizona. Acknowledged as an expert in the field, she has appeared on CNN and MSNBC; spoken at conferences around the globe from Germany to Beijing; and has been featured in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, Financial Times, The Economist, Brandweek, Advertising Age, Variety, B&C and Mediaweek amongst others. Originally from Texas, you will still hear her ya’ll as she gathers the team for strategy planning sessions. Like all true entrepreneurs, Stacy is an adventurer at her core – having sky dived, hang glided off bi-planes, swam with crocs while rafting the Zambezi in Africa, photographed grizzly bears in Alaska, trekked Mayan ruins in Belize, explored the ocean as an avid scuba diver, and who loves owning an advertising agency where she swims with a different type of Hollywood shark on a daily basis.


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