Adidas will always be the undisputed rival of Nike, however, in terms of basketball it has always come short of Nike. When looking back at the history of signings Adidas has made, it does raise some eyebrows. Sure it may have seemed like it was a reasonable judgement at the time. But fast forward they can be looked back as one of the most crucial mistakes Adidas made over the years.
Signing Tracy Mcgrady to a life-time deal
Coming out of high school, Adidas signed Tracy Mcgrady to a $12 million 6 year deal. Turned out to be a great deal as Tracy Mcgrady quickly developed into a young star in Orlando. During his final 6-year contract Tracy Mcgrady debuted his first signature shoe which gave Adidas the first number one selling shoe in the US in almost 6 years. Expecting a young T-Mac to continue to grow Adidas signed him to a life-time deal the following year making it one of the largest deals signed by an Adidas athlete at the time.
T-Mac’s greatness would be put at a halt as injuries during significant moments would prevent him from solidifying his legacy. The injuries would also take away his athleticism preventing him from being the same dominant scorer he was before. To this day T-Mac is remembered as a unlucky player rather than a great player. If T-Mac kept the level of production without his injuries he could have solidified himself as one of the greatest shooting guards in NBA history. With him Adidas would have been able to benefit from his success, but that never happened.
Signing Derrick Rose to a 13 Year Contract
It’s the same case for Derrick Rose, the youngest MVP in NBA history. Adidas signed D Rose before the NBA draft and he signed a 13-year extension worth $185 million after he came off his historic MVP season. Just weeks after signing the extension Derrick Rose went down with an torn ACL causing him to sit out the whole of the 2012-13 season and played a mere 10 games after he sustained a meniscus injury the following season. The riddle of injuries caused Derrick Rose’s career to go downhill and he never got to be the player he was suppose to be. Fast forward to 2020, Adidas still has 5 years left in his contract and Adidas just ended up with another player that never got to see his full potential.
Letting go of Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant was with Adidas at the start of his career and it was in his second season Adidas decided to give him his first shoe in his second season with the KB8 in 1998. The KB8 implemented Foot You Wear (FYW) technology which was to design the shoe based on natural movements of a foot and act as a extension for the wearer’s foot. The FYW principle carried on to the KB8 II.
However, as Adidas failed to find success in basketball, Adidas ditched the FYW technology and had Audi to design Kobe’s shoe which they designed after the Audi TT sports car. The infamous “The Kobe” was made, which looked closer to a boat than a shoe. The Audi and Adidas collaboration didn’t seem to slow down as Adidas release the Kobe II which continued their inspiration from the sports car. Even Kobe himself thought the shoe was ugly and horrible that he switched back to “The Kobe” during the NBA Finals. The KOBE II was the final straw as Kobe Bryant went on to pay $8 million to get out of his contract with Adidas and signed with Nike the following year.
Losing out Kobe is more of a bad business decision then bad luck. The brand had chances to make it right by giving Kobe a good basketball shoe, but the business side got to the brand leading to the eventual departure of Kobe Bryant.
Losing out Micheal Jordan
Before Micheal Jordan entered the draft, him and his agent was looking for companies that will sign Jordan to a shoe deal. Converse the basketball powerhouse at the time was already full of starts like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas. As much as Jordan would have loved to sign with Converse, the brand underestimated young Jordan’s potential and Converse was out of the picture. The brand Micheal Jordan really wanted to sign was Adidas as he loved playing basketball in Adidas shoes. However, at the time Adidas was struggling financially which prevented them from making basketball shoes for Jordan. As Jordan went on to sign with Nike, he still wanted to be with the brand of three stripes as he headed to the head office of Adidas on the 11th hour of signing his Nike contract urging them to match his contract. The year 1984, where the sneaker landscape will change forever, Adidas refused and the rest is history. Nike with the Micheal Jordan went on to make $126 million in the first year of selling Air Jordans and today Jordan brand alone is worth more than $10 billion.
In all fairness no one knew Jordan would become the icon of 80s to 90s basketball and influencing young players even to this day. Adidas was just unlucky, but their luck cost them multi-billion dollars.
Source: Feature image via Adidas
These four cases highlighted the crucial mistakes and pure lack of luck Adidas had as a basketball company. If even one of these cases turned out the way Adidas wanted, who knows? It might be Adidas on top and Nike trying to take their throne in the basketball shoe world.