The NBA Playoffs are in full swing. The NBA Finals draw the attention of millions of fans worldwide. Some would say players and team branding go hand in hand. Uniforms and shoes define teams and players. Marketing plays a key role in the NBA League, an NBA team, and its fans.
Branding has been a part of the league for decades. The first NBA logo appeared back in 1950 and featured a white circle that had the appearance of a basketball with the words “National Basketball Association” printed at the top of the logo. The colors were red, white, and blue. Logos and franchise branding too have changed since the 50s.
Marketing plays a significant role in the success of a player and an NBA team. Changing trends in the 60s and 70s led to more colorful and vibrant uniforms. Short-shorts evolved to long-shorts and back to mid-thigh shorts. Shoes have changed from the old Converse All-Star cotton high top to designs that fit the player on and off the court.
Shoes changed in the 70s with a popular shoe called the Adidas Superstar. But it was the 80s that proved to be one of, if not the biggest decades of change for NBA footwear. Michael Jordan and Nike defined that it with the Air Jordan. No one, including Nike, had any idea how big the Air Jordan would change the way we look and wear footwear. In Jordan’s first shoe deal with Nike, he signed a five-year contract worth $2.5 million in 1984. The Air Jordan continues to be a household name today. Nikes still top the most popular shoes worn in the NBA in 2023.
According to a 2023 list from yebscore.com, the top sneaker endorsement deals of all time are staggering. Michael Jordan: $1.3 billion. Lebron James: $1 Billion. Kevin Durant: $300 million. Stephen Curry: $215 million. Jordan’s annual endorsements could possibly the 9-figures. Unimaginable for a player that retired more than 20 years ago. The top 3 most worn shoes in the NBA this year: “1. Nike Kobe 6 Proto. #2. Nike PG 6. #3: Nike Lebron 20.
You’ll wish you saved your first gen Air Jordan, let alone you had them signed (which you probably didn’t). According to ESPN, Sotheby’s announced that a pair of signed Jordan sneakers that were worn in the second half of Game 2 of the 1998 “Last Dance” NBA Finals have sold for $2,238,000 — the highest price ever paid at auction for a pair of sneakers.
The 2023 Western Conference and NBA Finals can be seen on ABC and ESPN on Vidgo.