May 12, 2014, 6:57 PM EDT
Adidas has bet big on Damian Lillard, bet that the dramatic game winner that sunk the Rockets was not the last big playoff shot we’ve seen from the second-year guard.
When it comes to the business of basketball and one man’s brand, no one has won in these playoffs quite like the Blazers’ second-year point guard whose Adidas deal is believed to be the third largest in the entire NBA. The contract — which his agent, Aaron Goodwin of Goodwin Sports Management, told USA TODAY Sports could be “well over $100 million” with very-reachable incentives and is expected to eventually include a signature shoe and apparel — was seen by some as a head-spinner when it was first revealed on April 14.
Adidas is counting on a lot more big shots.
That said, guards/wing players sell shoes (not big men, even Shaq never moved the product). Adidas has bet big on Derrick Rose and Lillard to help them cut into Nike’s overwhelming share of the market.
The key decision-making factors in a shoe contract, according to Norman, range from the player’s market to his character, personality and style as well as the position he plays. In Lillard’s case, he just so happens to be based in the city where both Adidas and their No. 1 rival, Nike, call home. And with Adidas’ top basketball athletes, the Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose (two season-ending knee injuries) and the Houston Rockets’ Dwight Howard (negative publicity relating to his Aug. 2012 exodus from Orlando), having fallen on such hard times in recent years, Adidas’ competitors in the industry understood that the time was right for them to take a calculated risk on Lillard.
Lillard is a good guy. He’s exciting to watch. Fans relate to the “little guy” playing amongst the trees of the NBA — and Lillard interacts with them often on social media.
If you’re going to gamble, this was about as good a gamble as adidas could take. There are no sure things (see Rose’s injuries) but just like you in Vegas, you make the best calculated risk you can then hope it pays off. Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn’t.
For Lillard’s sake, I hope this gamble pays off.
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