Now is the moment for James Harden. His basketball career is in its prime. He’s among the marquee draws in the league — a perennial fixture among the top scorers, MVP candidates, and All-NBA and All-Star teams. His team, the Houston Rockets, are a loaded contender, combining elite skill, scoring punch, and star power.
Harden is also the face of adidas basketball on a 13-year, $200 million deal, working his basketball pedigree along with swagger and prerequisite drip that puts him among the style icons in the game. With a signature beard as distinctive as his quick footed lefty step back, he’s also broken through to the coveted crossover pitchman status.
Make no mistake, Harden is absolutely locked in on his basketball legacy, completely aware of the window and the assembly of talent around him. A championship is in his sights as Chris Paul, and more recently, Carmelo Anthony have joined him in Houston on a quest to get that elusive first Larry O’Brien trophy. Still, the dynamic of today’s NBA brings a top-level player with elite skill, personality, style, and smarts. In turn, those players of select company possess the power to select the company.
A prime example: Kobe Bryant. He’s shifted the standard shoe/soft drink/headphone deal set up to an approach that results in an upstart business opportunity that involves input, influence, and equity. It bears acknowledging that the Mamba has had a post-playing Midas touch, netting him an Oscar, an Emmy, and big bucks via his investment in BodyArmor. Now, meet Kobe’s latest venture: Art of Sport, a science-meets-performance bodycare brand that is built for performance as it applies to an active, athletic lifestyle.
With Kobe as founding partner of AOS, he assembled a roster of influential athletes from across the sports landscape to bring a diversity of use on the product line. First up was Harden, whose distinctive style and bankable pitchman chops made him a natural fit. Dime sat down with Harden to talk about his connection with Kobe and AOS, what life has brought him beyond basketball, and where he wants to take it.