Which Kicks Rule the NBA?

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistFebruary 2, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31:  Detail of the NIKE shoes worn by LeBron James #6 of United States during the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Basketball Arena on July 31, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The NBA seems to influence the sports apparel world more so than any other sport, especially when we're talking about shoes.

You can go out and wear the same shoes that Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James or even Luke Walton wears while playing on a day-to-day basis. But there aren't many people plodding along in Albert Pujols' cleats or Usain Bolt's spikes.

That's why there's such a huge deal made over who wears what shoe in the NBA. Whether you're siding with Nike, Reebok, Adidas, or another company, people seem to notice.

It's why Marcin Gortat wearing a "Jumpman" logo tattoo on his calf was such a huge deal a few years back since he was being sponsored by Adidas. 

For years now, it's been Nike vs. Adidas, with brands like Fila, Converse and Reebok doing their best to take a bit of the market share away from the two juggernauts. But there are some newer companies that have burst onto the scene in the past few years, and they're making quite the splash.

So which company now rules the NBA's shoe world? I think the answer to that is pretty obvious, but the companies who have been kicked to the curb, so to speak, are a bit more surprising.



For the rest of my lifetime, and many beyond, it wouldn't be surprising to see Nike continue to dominate the basketball shoe world.

Ever since the Jordan brand came about, Nike has cornered the market on the best NBA players. They're first in basketball shoes, and for that to change there's going to have to be a major shakeup in the sneaker world.

With the Jordan brand still a subsidiary of Nike, you can forget about it. Even if you take all the Jordan-sponsored athletes away from Nike, they're still scores ahead of the next closest company.

Separate Jordan out altogether and you have the company with the fourth-most NBA player endorsements.

Jordan brand has Carmelo Anthony, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook, while Nike as a whole has LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Rajon Rondo, Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol.

Forget about it right there. Nike has at least seven of the league's 10 best players. No other company is ever going to compete with that.



While Nike is head, shoulders, knees and toes above every other shoe company in the NBA, Adidas is a distant second, and it is not nearly as secure in its position as it has been in the past.

Still, it has a large portion of the market cornered, thanks to its sterling reputation, even though it does have  a handful of players under contract who either currently or recently have been in traction.

Of course, its biggest grabs have been Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard, while it still boasts a healthy group of Tim Duncan, Andrei Kirilenko, Nené, Josh Smith and Antawn Jamison.

Most impressive about Adidas is the huge grab it has made on the next wave of talent in the league. It has nabbed the likes of Damian Lillard, Derrick Favors, Taj GIbson, Danilo Gallinari, Iman Shumpert, Avery Bradley and John Wall.

A little friendly competition never hurts. So if the young guns with Adidas can push it to compete with Nike a bit more, that can only be good for business.



If you've ever seen a player wearing a puzzling pair of shoes with an unfinished triangle on the side and wondered what company that is, that's the newcomer, Peak.

Peak has been around since 1989, but it is only now starting to sign a good number of NBA players to endorsement deals, landing a few big names along the way.

Tony Parker leads the way with Peak, but it has also gobbled up Carl Landry, Kyle Lowry, Shane Battier, George Hill, JaVale McGee and Jason Richardson.

Kevin Love signed with Peak before jumping ship and signing with 361 Degrees, the only NBA player currently with that company.

Peak has just recently caught on in the NBA, and it's starting to look like it's ready to go after some big-time players.


Li Ning

There are only three NBA players endorsed by Li Ning, but the caliber of the players has to give it a bit of an edge over the likes of Reebok and Under Armor.

Those two companies have more names on board, but they're not luring as many big-name players as Li Ning.

The Chinese company was founded in 1990, but it just landed its first few NBA players in 2012 when Evan Turner and Jose Calderon came on board.

However, the big prize came later when it signed Dwyane Wade, who had a deal with Converse a few years back, then left left Jordan Brand last season.

As long as Wade is on board, Li Ning should have a chance to sign a few more players, potentially even putting together a run of players like Peak has done.


Reebok and Under Armour

The two remaining "big-name" companies that have a few decent players on board are doing a poor job of adding any star-player pop. But they have put together a nice list nonetheless.

One doesn't tower over the other, as they both seem to be around to pick up the scraps. But they're doing a fine job of grabbing those scraps and not letting go.

Reebok has Jameer Nelson, according to hoopshype.com, along with Andre Miller, Ramon Sessions, Jason Terry and Isaiah Thomas.

It seems that it has geared its  shoes toward point guards, and it's working for the time being.

Under Armour, meanwhile, has Brandon Jennings along with Kemba Walker, Greivis Vasquez, DeAndre Jordan and Raymond Felton.


The Rest

A few other shoe companies have signed a player or two here and there, a few  bit more surprising than others.

Matt Bonner is the only NBA player sponsored by New Balance, while Joakim Noah is rocking the latest kicks from Le Coq Sportif. Mario Chalmers,  Jimmer Fredette and Chris Singleton are the only NBAers rocking Spalding shoes, and Kevin Garnett and Luis Scola wear shoes from Anta.

Finally, we have Chuck Hayes wearing shoes from Qiaodan, Lance Stephenson in And1 brand shoes, and Udonis Haslem as the only player sponsored by Converse.