Long article at The Undefeated about fewer and fewer NBA players getting shoe deals:
Each of the last five years, basketball footwear sales have been dwindling, as the buying public has opted instead to purchase more lifestyle and retro sneakers.
After peaking this decade at $1.3 billion in 2015, sales of non-retro basketball sneakers generated only around $800 million in 2019, according to the NPD Group, a market research company. In 2020, as retail stores experienced nationwide closures and buyers were forced to almost entirely shop online, sales were down yet another 20% from last year’s tally, to around $640 million.
Fashion designers such as Virgil Abloh and Jerry Lorenzo have also shown they can be more impactful than several NBA All-Stars, through stylized takes on both retro and modernized basketball sneakers that have become far more coveted than several signature basketball sneaker lines.
On Tuesday, Adidas announced a long-term partnership with Lorenzo, the Fear Of God company founder and designer, fresh off a successful series of Nike collaborations. In the new unique structure, Lorenzo “will drive the creative and business strategy for Adidas Basketball globally,” according to the brand.
Social media influencers, a murky market of its own, continue to also play a role in the industry.