After the news broke a few months ago that adidas and Nike were going hard at trying to sign freshman sensation and soon-to-be NBA lottery pick Ben Simmons to his first sneaker deal, he made his decision:
As he announced on Uniterrupted, Simmons is taking his talents and immense potential to the Swoosh.
If you read the great look by The Vertical’s Nick De Paula on the whole deal, (and you should if you haven’t) it outlines what the Nike deal for Simmons entails – namely $12 million dollars over five years, plus incentives that would increase the total amount over the course of the contract. Not bad for someone not old enough to vote, or legally purchase alcohol in any NBA city not named Toronto.
Now I don’t think this was a surprise to anyone. There were lots of factors that could have led to this decision, but a big one could have been his agent Rich Paul, as his other clients at Klutch Sports are all Nike players, most notably LeBron James. Paul has negotiated a fair share of deals for those under the Klutch umbrella and this pre-existing relationship could have played in the decision. Of course there is the name factor involved with signing with Nike, as well as the money behind it to push Simmons as an endorser which alone is worth it’s weight in kicks. There was lots of chatter before the announcement that Paul, with Simmons, was looking to sign an endorsement deal before the Draft Lottery was announced, and then shifted to after looking to see which teams would potentially select him, which could have affected the bottom line of the contract. All in all, this is all sound and the 6’10” forward, is the newest basketball multi-millionaire, all without even being drafted yet.
But here is what gets me thinking – adidas came at Simmons with a deal that was reported to be worth $10 million over the same five years with a $2 million signing bonus, plus incentives that could have kicked the deal to about $17 million. These numbers are big numbers, much bigger than what Nike offered, and the fact that he walked away from it, (no matter how torn he was reported to be) is big news. The three stripes offered almost double the money plus a “rollover clause,” that would have given him his base pay, plus any incentives he’d earned to that part of his career that would – get ready for it – continually be added to the following year for the duration of his sneaker contract.
Simmons would, in essence, be printing his own cheque simply by playing as the player that everyone seems to think he can be. adidas also reportedly offered a signature line in the deal, but he turned all that down to sign with Nike. The things that adidas had offered in his deal are directly in line with what you would offer a potential superstar, so the question begs – does Simmons think he’s that guy?
His freshman season was up and down with some great and awe-inspiring play as well as some lingering questions to his intensity and heart. LSU was 19-14 with Simmons in the lineup culminating in a 71-38 loss in the SEC Tournament where he went for 10 points and 12 rebounds, and a perception that he shut down on his team. Turning down a more lucrative offer that could potentially place him in the upper echelons of young NBA talent endorsements just on his performance alone, which we all predict will be very good every game, has to make you wonder if he’s ready to make that jump.
As a part of the Nike family, he’ll be one of the many guys reppin’ the Swoosh on-court, but for him to be considered a signature line athlete, he’d have to be doing some serious work that would have to be on par if not out pace the likes of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and of course LeBron James. Sneaker deals like the one that adidas offered Simmons don’t come around very often for guys with NBA resumes, so for him to turn it down to be “one of the crew” at Nike does raise an eyebrow. Of course time will tell if this decision works out best for him, but with the world being thrown at your feet, you have to wonder why he would have refused it.