As the NBA continues to grow, so does fans’ knowledge of the game and the forces around it, the things outside of basketball that sometimes influence players’ decisions.
One such factor that has been bandied about in recent years is the proliferation of clauses in the shoe endorsement contracts of stars that give them extra money for ending up in top media markets, as well as how much extra money those same stars could stand to gain in sales should they end up with a team in a larger city with a more die-hard fanbase.
But while LeBron James will almost undoubtedly benefit from the latter factor with his move to the Los Angeles Lakers, it sounds like — despite having a big-market bonus in his original contract with Nike — that the swoosh won’t be giving James any extra pay for coming to the Lakers now, according to Nick DePaula of ESPN:
Fifteen years ago, LeBron James -- then fresh out of high school and yet to play a single NBA minute -- signed an unprecedented, seven-year, $90 million contract with Nike, which famously included a clause that would pay him even more if the presumptive No. 1 overall pick landed in a major market such as New York, Chicago or Los Angeles.
Now, 15 years later, the four-time MVP is finally joining one of those major markets, as he’s set to play his 16th NBA season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Although the “lifetime” Nike contract he signed in 2015 no longer includes that market bonus, James’ ongoing signature series is expected to get a significant boost from his latest move.
Now, as stated above, James will still surely get extra economic benefits from signing with the Lakers, even if he isn’t set for a big bonus right up front. His donning the purple and gold armor will be enough to convince countless fans who would have never considered buying his shoes before to cop a pair, as well as how much extra revenue James will receive from sales of his Lakers jersey, which will almost assuredly be one of the league’s top sellers this season.
But while such financial factors were probably a factor in James’ decision making, his committing to the Lakers for at least three years also shows that this is something more than a quick cash-in. James is in this for the long-haul (at least in NBA terms), and is setting up a real foothold in Los Angeles. He might not be getting an up-front payday for it, but such a move seems sure help his bottom line long-term.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.