New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis has worn Kobe Bryant’s Nike sneakers throughout his brief NBA career. Now, the Latvia product is sponsored by the athletic brand Bryant started his career with before heading to Nike.
Nick DePaula of The Vertical broke the news late Wednesday night that Porzingis has swapped the Swoosh for three stripes and signed a deal with Adidas, a contract reported to be between $3 million and $6 million a year. Porzingis is the latest addition to the athletic giant’s star-studded young roster of sponsored ballers that includes Houston Rockets guard James Harden and Minnesota Timberwolves small forward Andrew Wiggins.
But according to Matt Powell, global sports industry analyst with The NPD Group, the money spent on securing Porzingis isn’t much to talk about.
“The press is making a much bigger deal out of this. They’re making a big deal out of this as if it’s a lot of money, and this is really kind of walking around money, frankly,” he said. “It may be a record for a European player, but it’s like saying it’s a record for someone with brown hair. We have a lot of players out there who are earning less than $5 million a year to wear their shoes. I don’t really think it’s a big deal one way or the other.”
Although the money spent on Porzingis isn’t monumental, according to Powell, he believes the money is well spent.
“New York City is the epicenter of the basketball business in the U.S., so having a player who is a fan favorite there is very meaningful in that market,” Powell said. “He’s a colorful personality, he’s going to get PR mentions for sure, and he’ll be wearing three stripes when he does. I think there’s some value there, for sure.”
In August 2015, Adidas announced it signed Harden to a 13-year, $200 million deal.