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Robust LeBron Sales Proving Polls Wrong

Polls and ratings may indicate LeBron James has lost his marketing appeal, but the cash register doesn’t lie. James heads into the holiday season with the best selling basketball shoe and the best selling jersey.

LeBron James
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LeBron James

In September, The Q Scores Company told CNBC that, thanks to his “Decision,” the general population thought of LeBron in a much more negative light.

Yet, Nike’s LeBron 8, which hit stores on Oct.26, is the best selling basketball shoe for the month of November, according to SportsOneSource analyst Matt Powell.

Powell said sales of the shoe – which was No. 2 in the entire sports footwear space to the perennial leader the white Air Force 1, generated 20 percent more business than the next most popular basketball shoe that month, the Jordan IX.

Powell admits that Nike gave LeBron the chance to sell well because of the quantity of the shoe that it made, but the fact that they sold the way they did at a $160 price point means James is clearly still very marketable.

“This proves that LeBron can sell,” Powell said. “I think what still remains to be seen is whether or not he damaged his ability to be the type of spokesman he was for Nike before all this happened.”

Powell says the feel and the design of the LeBron shoe also have to do with its positive sales number.

Nike spokesman Derek Kent declined to comment on specific sales, but did say “we are pleased with the positive and strong consumer response to the LeBron 8.”

Powell says James also leads the league in jersey sales and is one of the reasons why the Heat lead the league in team sales market share at 23 percent of the total marketplace. Powell said the Lakers account for 20 percent of sales.

James' Miami Heat has been struggling more than expected (15-8), but enters tonight's game against Golden State on a six-game winning streak.

Update: LeBron also has an endorsement deal with Beats By Dre, endorsing the company’s Powerbeats headphones: “Beats is thrilled to be in business with Lebron James,” said Jimmy Iovine, the Interscope-Geffen-A&M chief who produced James’ documentary “More Than A Game” and is part of the company. “Powerbeats were inspired by his extraordinarily high standards and expectations – we knew if they sounded incredible and fit perfectly through his most brutal workout sessions, we had a winner. People that we talk to all seem to agree and we have the sales velocity to back it up.”

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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