LeBron James reportedly signed a lifetime deal with Nike on Monday, and it is said to be the largest single-athlete deal in company history.
That’s right. LeBron is now Nike’s forever, and the only thing he gets out of it is approximately $500m (some sources say it could be significantly higher than that). But is this worth it for Nike? Is it worth it for LeBron? Why does this sound so ludicrous??
Well maybe it’s not.
Back in 2003, David Beckham signed a lifetime contract with Adidas that secured him approximately $160m. Since then, neither side has encountered an issue. The deal worked out and is still doing so today.
Nike probably used this as a reference for their new deal with King James, yet, in a way, they are taking quite a gamble by doing so.
We saw Nike lose tens of millions back when they endorsed athletes such as Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong and Oscar Pistorius. Each of these guys had their own issues (look it up if you need to), and Nike found themselves in distraught after each occurrence.
They were all once top of their sport, the number 1 athlete, and they all seemed like good, honest people. Yet, one mistake not only damaged their professional career, but their contracts with a very, very valuable company.
So by Nike signing LeBron for life, they are flirting with the thought that LeBron will never be involved in any sort of scandal. They have faith in him being a good-sport forever (that was an unintended pun). But there’s really no guarantee.
In many other circumstances we’ve seen Nike have success with athletes, such as Jordan and Kevin Durant. Yet neither of these guys have been offered the lifetime contract that requires them to sign their life away for money and shoes. And that probably has nothing to do with them as people, but rather their potential for the future. Jordan is retired and Durant has shown he is pretty injury prone, so even though Nike has shown they like to take risks, they play their contracts with these athletes safe by paying them the millions they deserve but only for so long, rather than a lifetime.
So let’s hope LeBron doesn’t screw anything up. If he does, things will be looking very downhill for both Nike and the King. However, I think most of us can say LeBron’s a good dude, he’s proven himself and Nike is very comfortable representing him for a lifetime.
Kyle Hirshkind is the managing editor for Full Press Coverage's New York Jets channel. Originally from Long Island, New York, Kyle has been an avid Jets supporter for 20+ years.