Finally unshackled from the Based God Curse, it appears James Harden is in for some good luck in the form of a massive financial windfall. ESPN.com's Darren Rovell is reporting Adidas has offered the Houston Rockets guard a 13-year, $200 million endorsement contract to leave rival Nike.
Rovell later shared a statement from Adidas regarding the company's offer to Harden:
Harden's contract with Nike recently expired without an extension, opening an opportunity for its competitor to pounce. If Nike does not match the deal in the next week, Adidas would likely use Harden as its chief endorser in the coming years, a role originally intended for Bulls guard Derrick Rose before his injury issues.
On Aug. 10, TMZ Sports reported Nike has decided not to try and top Adidas' offer, citing their concerns about giving one athlete that much money with multiple other players to sign.
Harden, 25, averaged 27.4 points, seven assists and 5.7 rebounds per game last season, leading the Rockets to the Western Conference's No. 2 seed. He finished second behind Golden State's Stephen Curry in the media MVP voting but was given the league's top honor by his peers.
Despite his ascent to the sport's pinnacle, Harden is an interesting choice as a brand endorser. Unlike a majority of top-selling stars, his game doesn't have an instantly brandable trait.
Harden thrives in the ugly middle ground, contorting his body and bouncing off defenders to force his way to the free-throw line. Efficiency may be the calling card of the Rockets organization, but it's a more difficult sell to fans who are drawn to high-flying dunks and fluttering threes.
Luckily, Harden has the off-court flair to make himself a marketable star. His beard alone has marketability, as it's been featured on a number of shirts seen around the Houston area. Harden is also known as one of the NBA's most stylish players, and he was featured in this year's All-Star Weekend fashion show.
Rovell expanded, addressing Harden's appeal on an international scale:
There's also international hope for Harden, as the Rockets already are very popular in China thanks to former player Yao Ming. Sources say part of what Adidas is willing to pay has to do with the potential for the masses to embrace Harden on a even greater scale if the Rockets can make more of a splash in the playoffs in the coming years.
With so few other established stars available, Adidas is looking at Harden as its opportunity to pounce. The brand is already losing its exclusive licensing agreement with the NBA after the 2016-17 season, so it needs to find a way to keep itself viable in the basketball marketplace.
With most of its other endorsers hanging on the second tier of stardom, Harden may be Adidas' best bet to land a perennial MVP candidate.
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