The relationship between the sneaker industry and the NBA is a tight and complex one. Everyone wants a shoe deal, everyone wants their signature shoe, but Nike and Jordan’s brand power dominates the industry to such an extent that they likely will never be unseated as the most popular brand. Since they have no interest in signing and promoting every major athlete, that leaves plenty of athletes hawking shoes that will rarely outsell those of lesser athletes backed by the swoosh or the Jumpman.
The influence of brands on sneakers is illustrated brilliantly in the above photo, reposted by the Lakers’ Lou Williams. It makes you think about whether the Nike version looks better than the Under Armour version, and why. I believe that the two power brands are blessed with more beautiful logos than the clunky UA, because their horizontal orientation makes the shoes look longer and slimmer. Then again, I don’t know the first thing about style, and I could just be rationalizing in reverse my preference for brands with previously-established histories of beauty.
Steph Curry’s sponsorship with UA is far and away the best thing that has happened for their brand, but then a version of his signature shoe came out and was roundly mocked. Would it have gotten the same treatment if it had that signature swoosh? It’s an impossible question to answer, but one thing’s for sure — it looks a hell of a lot better in the Warriors’ blue and gold.
Lou Williams has a shoe deal with Chinese brand Peak.