Hoop dreams: Adidas aims to 'Boost' its basketball game

Adidas may be the official apparel provider for the NBA, but when it comes to basketball shoes, Nike still dominates. Adidas is working hard to change that.

The D-Rose 5 Boost and Crazylight Boost, from Adidas.
Source: Adidas

On Sunday, the German footwear and apparel maker announced that it's bringing its innovative Boost technology in its running shoes to basketball.

Chicago's Derrick Rose and Portland's Damian Lillard unveiled the D-Rose 5 Boost and the Crazylight Boost kicks, available Oct. 23 and Sept. 1, respectively, for $140.

"It's made up of a very different kind of foam to help maximize energy return and responsiveness," said Chris Grancio, head of Global Basketball sports marketing for Adidas.

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First introduced to the running world in 2013, Boost technology has thousands of capsules that provide soft, lightweight cushioning to players, Adidas says.

"I broke my foot in college, so being able to have a comfortable shoe that's light and also supportive, that's really helpful with how the game is played," Damian Lillard, the Portland Trailblazers All-Star Point Guard told CNBC.

At just 11.6 ounces, the Crazylight Boost is Adidas' latest effort to take on Nike, which continues to dominate the NBA.

"The general trend in the industry is players going lighter and lighter," Grancio said.

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Despite the new shoe, Adidas has a steep road to climb. The company has just 3 percent retail market share in basketball, compared with Jordan Brands' (owned by Nike) 58 percent and Nike's 38 percent in 2014, according to SportsOneSource.

"The category is really dominated by Nike. It's very difficult for a smaller brand to get room on the shelf," said Matt Powell, an analyst from SportsOneSource.

Basketball footwear has been a bright spot for the industry, as sales have risen 20 percent year-to-date at a time when the overall footwear market is down. During that same time, Adidas has struggled, with its basketball shoe sales down 20 percent.

"Boost has been well received in the running category, but we'll have to wait and see if it can translate in basketball.
Matt Powell
Analyst, sportsOneSource

One major reason behind the decline—Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose. Adidas' highest paid NBA athlete has been sidelined by knee injuries for much of the past two seasons. Rose signed a 13-year deal with Adidas in 2012, reported to be worth more than $185 million.

"Not having their marquee player on the court for Adidas really hurt their sales," Powell said.

Shoe sales for Rose last year were $40 million in 2013 according to SportsOneSource, a figure that pales in comparison to the $300 million Lebron James pulled in for Nike last year.

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Adidas isn't just making moves with its footwear and technology, however. The firm has also ramped up its signing of high-profile endorsers, by inking deals with four of the top six NBA Draft picks, including Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1 pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"We're very bullish that these signings are going to help us grow the basketball business," Grancio said.

Global rivals: Nike vs. Adidas
Global rivals: Nike vs. Adidas

The signing of Wiggins marks the first time Adidas has signed the No. 1 draft pick since 2008, when the brand signed Rose.

"They clearly are putting a lot of energy into basketball," said Powell, but he pointed out that Adidas didn't sign any of the players for big money up front. Wiggins' deal with Adidas is reported to pay at least $2 million annually.

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Will the new signing and technology be enough for Adidas to compete in basketball footwear in the NBA versus Nike? Maybe not yet.

"It's not a game changer," Powell said. "Boost has been well received in the running category, but we'll have to wait and see if it can translate in basketball."

—By CNBC's Jessica Golden