Andrew Wiggins, the super-hyped Kansas freshman who many think will be the No. 1 pick in next summer's NBA draft, has been compared to LeBron James over and over again.
Wiggins, who like LeBron is 6-foot-8 and has freaky athleticism, has been labeled the best high school prospect since James.
But, as amazing as this sounds, there's one key metric in which Wiggins may be able to top James. According to a Bleacher Report story, Wiggins may be set to receive a shoe deal rivals James' record-setting contract. Nike inked James to a seven-year, $93 million deal when he entered the league, and Bleacher Report's Jared Zwerling writes that at least one apparel giant is prepared to offer Wiggins anywhere from $140 million to $180 million for 10 years.
Take a second to let that soak in.
Rich Lopez, the publisher of sneaker website KixandtheCity.com, told Zwerling that Adidas is the front-runner. But there's no way that Nike will get left out of the Wiggins "Shoestakes."
"I'm hearing from people at Kansas that he's got a $180 million offer supposedly coming from Adidas," a source close to Wiggins' inner circle told Zwerling. "But I also heard that Nike is going to match anything."
For comparison, Kevin Durant signed an initial seven-year, $60 million deal with Nike that included a $10 million signing bonus. In 2012, one season after winning the NBA's MVP award, Derrick Rose reportedly signed a 14-year, $250 million deal with Adidas. That amounts to just under $18 million a year. If these reports are true, Wiggins could haul in between $14 million and $18 million per year, and he won't have played a game in the NBA.
Of course, even though Adidas may offer Wiggins more money, that doesn't necessarily mean he'll sign there. Adidas offered Durant $10 million more than Nike, but Durant chose Nike for sentimental reasons. Wiggins could make the same choice, as he reportedly wore Nike growing up and on his AAU team.
And it's important not to count out a dark horse endorser candidate, like Under Armour or a Chinese brand. Under Armour is making a bigger push into the basketball market, and recently signed Warriors star Steph Curry. Chinese brands Li-Ning and Anta have made splashes by signing Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo, respectively. Basketball is enormously popular in China, and being from Canada, Wiggins can appreciate his international marketing options better than many prospects.
The irony of all this is that there's no evidence that these monster shoe deals are actually worth it for Nike, Adidas and the rest.
"Nike spends 12 percent on marketing," Matt Powell, a sneakerologist for SportsOneSource, told Zwerling. "So when LeBron sold $150 million worth of shoes at wholesale last year, 12 percent is like $20 million. So it's in the range of what he's being paid now—the first time he's gotten his marketing cost to the sales range after nine years. He's now at an acceptable threshold for the amount of money they're paying him. So you overpay for eight years to make the money back in Year 9? That's not good business."
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