ESPN's Nick DePaula broke the news that New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis had agreed to a lucrative extension with Nike, officially putting to bed any rumors of where his next sneaker contract would come from.
Re-upping Davis was a no-brainer for a company that has dominated the basketball landscape for the past 20 years. For Nike, the brand first and foremost maintains the rights to a franchise player. Davis is a rare talent. One who can take over games on both ends of the floor and still is on the right side of 25—A.D. is only 24 years old.
Despite those accolades, Davis has yet to officially receive his own signature sneaker from the Swoosh regime. In the absence of an official shoe, Nike's Air Max Dominate line has become his defacto on-foot weapon of choice.
But why? What has prevented Davis from being handed his own shoe, and if it hasn't happened yet, will it ever?
DePaula told B/R Kicks Nike's plans for A.D. are a little different. "At this point, Nike plans to utilize Anthony Davis in brand campaigns at sporting goods accounts carrying the Air Max Dominate and in campaigns centered around the new Nike x NBA Pelicans jerseys," he mentioned.
Nike doesn't offer handouts. The company has only produced 21 signature NBA sneakers since its inception, with Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George as the latest recipient earlier this year. The signature sneaker remains one area where Nike hasn't gone into oversaturation mode—unlike the retro Air Jordan market. Receiving your own shoe under Nike's banner remains a coveted, exclusive event.
Hope isn't totally lost for Davis becoming athlete No. 22. "In order to get his own signature shoe, it's fair to say that Anthony Davis would need to reach an MVP-level in the league," DePaula explained.
Davis' early season stat line of 24.3 points and 13.3 rebounds per game is a strong indicator that MVP conversation is happening right now. And pushing the Pelicans toward a postseason run would only enhance those MVP chances.
Aside from the MVP talk, another reason smart money should be placed on Davis' getting his own shoe is current market conditions. Nike needs fresh blood in the hoops arena, especially as the brand's aesthetic and sales trajectories have been pushed to the brink by rival Adidas.
It's an issue that's plagued Nike in 2017 from all angles minus basketball sales. The concern remains, what does the future hold?
The coveted teenage demographic may be drifting away from Nike as the end-all, be-all choice for kicks. "For the first time in years, we've seen Nike share moderate as a preferred brand," Erinn Murphy, a senior research analyst for Piper Jaffray, explained to Daphne Howland of Retail Dive.
This isn't the news you want to hear if you're a Nike aficionado. It's a tangible wake-up call and a reason to showcase superior athletes like Davis.
An astronomically productive year on the floor could propel Davis to footwear stardom. He's become the sneaker version of Aaron Rodgers, patiently waiting for Brett Favre to take his final snap. Nike paid to keep him stashed on the roster and long-term, not giving A.D. his own shoe would be ridiculous.
He's far too talented and too marketable to let drift away. Sure he can sell jerseys and brand the Pelicans. But in terms of footwear and the long-term scope of Nike's roster, handing a 24-year-old superstar his own signature kicks seems like a logical step forward.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. All stats and information courtesy of NBA.com.