Why NBA Star Russell Westbrook’s New 10-Year Deal Is Great for Jordan Brand

Russell Westbrook is having a great 2017. The charismatic basketball star was named the league’s Most Valuable Player and became the second player in NBA history to average a triple-double for the season. And today, Jordan Brand showed Westbrook how loyal the label is to him.

According to an ESPN report, the Oklahoma City Thunder baller signed a 10-year extension with Jordan Brand, which is “the most lucrative total endorsement deal for a Jordan athlete to date.”

But this new deal is coming at a time where basketball sneaker sales are declining, and didn’t see any improvement when meaningful game action was being played. (According to data provided by The NPD Group Retail Tracking Service, basketball footwear sales in the U.S. were down 22 percent in the 12 months ending April 2017.)

Despite this, industry insiders believe the move is good for Jordan Brand.

“Westbrook is a terrific ambassador for the brand — fabulous athlete, great personality, fits with the Jordan ethos. I think it’s a really good match,” said Matt Powell, VP and sports industry analyst with The NPD Group.

The new extension with Westbrook, who is about to enter his 10th season in the NBA, will continue after the All-Star guard is likely to retire from the league.

“[Jordan Brand] is looking beyond the game, as [Nike is] with LeBron [James] and so forth,” Powell explained. “I think [Nike and Jordan] are hoping they continue to represent the brand well and can sell shoes when they’re not on the court.”

Russell Westbrook Oklahoma City Thunder Air Jordan XXXI
Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Air Jordan XXXI.
CREDIT: Rex Shutterstock

With the length of the deal, and the decline of performance sneakers in retail, Powell warned that fans of Westbrook should not expect an on-court sneaker bearing his name on it anytime soon.

“Lifestyle is still the biggest opportunity for them to win some additional business. The lifestyle part of footwear is really the major growth story,” Powell explained. “I expect we’ll see more from them there. I doubt that they’ll mess with the signature product. They’re will be PE [player edition] versions of it, for sure, but I doubt that they will give him his own performance shoe.”

Westbrook wears Air Jordan styles, the signature looks from retired NBA great Michael Jordan, on the court for the Thunder, and has his own lifestyle line with the label. The baller’s latest casual shoe, the Jordan Westbrook 0.2, is in stores now.

Jordan Westbrook 0.2

Jordan Westbrook 0.2, $140 $109.97; nike.com

The accomplished athlete is the face of Jordan Brand’s initiatives to promote the Air Jordan XXXII, which arrives in stores on Sept. 23.

Russell Westbrook Air Jordan XXXII
Russell Westbrook in the Air Jordan XXXII.

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