Marketability in the NBA Part 2: The Brands

fake-sneakers-seized-1280x705Last week we looked at some of the NBA’s most marketable players. This week, in the second of our two-part series, we look at the sportswear brands NBA players endorse and how these brands use their endorsements to create an image. With the NBA’s growing popularity, especially among younger fans, brands are looking to find the right superstar to sport their latest sneakers.


  • Adidas has been quickly gaining ground on Nike. Both their Awareness and top-box Appeal have grown 10% from 2016, which reflects their overall success this year.
  • Under Armour’s recent struggles may be a reflection of some trends we noticed among their younger brand users. Among that group, top-box Appeal dropped by 11 percentage points, while over the same period Nike and Adidas’ Appeal among this demographic grew by 17 and 22 percent, respectively.
  • Brands like Converse and Champion don’t have NBA stars endorsing their shoes but are instead banking on their retro appeal. Converse has the top score in the Classic attribute among ages 13-30 at 50% and Champion has clearly embraced their history, showing an impressive 25 point jump in their Classic score since 2015.

Brand and Athlete Alignment

Brands like Jordan and their parent company Nike have been built around the basketball shoe. That is why the sportswear brand put such high value around picking an endorser. Here are a few top NBA endorsers and how they align with the brand they sport on their feet.


  • One of Nike’s main endorsers, LeBron James, has the highest Awareness (54%) and is also the most Influential (27%) athlete among their competitor’s key endorsers. Nike and their subsidiary Jordan Brand lead all sportswear brands for the attribute Influential at 18% and 21% respectively.
  • The Jordan brand has on its roster one of the most Exciting (29%), Aggressive (20%), and Stylish (17%) in OKC point guard and last season’s MVP, Russell Westbrook. These attributes among their endorsers surely contribute to Jordan having the highest Trend-Setter score among athletic brands (32%).
  • Adidas’ top endorsers Derrick Rose and James Harden have high Aggressive scores, but their Appeal is below average. Adidas makes up for it in an interesting way though, by adding non-athletes to their list of endorsers. Adidas endorser Pharrell Williams has a Stylish score far higher than any active NBA player (34%) and his Influential score (26%) is comparable to LeBron James (27%).

Big Baller Brand


Laker rookie Lonzo Ball. With $500-$1,200 sneakers, BBB caters to a small group of buyers and prices their shoes out of range for most consumers.

  • bbb-graphicHigh prices may not be their only problem; our research shows the BBB logo is often confused with the Better Business Bureau, with more than half of consumers making this misidentification.
  • Consumers don’t yet trust the brand (3% Trustworthy) and consider BBB not as Cool (17%) as other athletic brands. It will be interesting to see how these numbers change as their sole endorser, Lonzo Ball’s career progresses.

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