EBay partners with NBA's 'Sneaker King' P.J. Tucker to boost shoe sales

Key Points
  • Houston Rockets forward P.J. Tucker signed a content deal with eBay to showcase his new sneaker loft.
  • Financial terms of the agreement were not made available, but the pact is a short-term content deal that could lead to a more extended partnership.

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Houston Rockets PJ Tucker
Source: eBay

Houston Rockets forward P.J. Tucker is partnering with eBay in a new influencer-style deal aimed at showcasing and capitalizing on his new sneaker loft.

Financial terms of the agreement were not made available, but the pact is a short-term content deal that could lead to a more extended partnership.

EBay said it will create video content inside Tucker's loft and "launch a selection of sneakers inspired by his own collection." A similar style of sneakers will be auctioned on eBay.

Tucker is known as the "Sneaker King" throughout the National Basketball Association. He famously used his first debit card to buy shoes on the eBay as a junior in high school.

"There is still nobody that does it like [eBay]," Tucker said in an interview with CNBC from his hotel room at the NBA's Disney bubble campus in Orlando, Florida.

"EBay's sneakerhead community is one of our most passionate, and P.J. Tucker epitomizes that passion," Mark Flaa, eBay's North American GM of sneakers, said in a statement. "We couldn't miss the opportunity to share with fans an inside-look at his new sneaker loft and share this perspective with other collectors on the marketplace."

eBay's headquarters in San Jose, California, U.S.
Bloomberg |  Getty Images

EBay's return

The partnership with Tucker aligns with new CEO Jamie Iannone's vision for eBay. The firm is attempting to gain a piece of the collectible market that includes sneakers and is worth an estimated $500 billion. Tucker's name, image and likeness is valuable in the "sneakerhead" world. The online marketplace said it added 8 million active shoppers during the second quarter, and this deal might help it add more.

With e-commerce rivals including Walmart and Shopify eating into eBay's business — plus a scandal involving at least six employees charged with intimidating the company's critics — Iannone was hired in April to lead the company's rebranding back to its roots.

"I think there's lots of areas for opportunity," he told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on Wednesday. "I'm not satisfied with where we are, and I see enormous upside potential in really getting back and focusing on the customer experience."

Long-term plan

Tucker, 35, called eBay's service "reliable" and praised the site's "real conversation" with other customers when describing his long relationship with the company.

The North Carolina native, who re-signed a multiyear endorsement deal with Nike in November, didn't deny he's addicted to the auction-based e-commerce service.

"That's fair to say," he said. "I don't remember the last day I went without going on eBay."

Houston Rockets PJ Tucker
Source: eBay

Josh Abba, CEO of Sports Media World, said the agreement also extends Tucker's off the court business ventures. Tucker won't play in the NBA forever and wants to expand his "creative ambitions" in fashion.

"Post career, he will have a lot of opportunities in the creative footwear space, which is exciting for him long-term," added Abba, who advises Tucker on business and marketing deals.

Tucker's deal with eBay includes showcasing his estimated 700 to 1,000 sneakers in his Houston loft and providing exclusive interviews about how he purchased collectible sneakers such as the Air Jordan 1 1985 originals, and the Ben & Jerry's-inspired "Chunky Dunky" sneakers.

Tucker said the only pair of sneakers he needed "to go find" that wasn't supplied by Nike is the Chunky Dunky, which he estimated he paid roughly $2,000 for on eBay.

After two games in the NBA's bubble, Tucker helped the Rockets improve to 2-0 with a 120-116 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday. The Rockets also helped ESPN attract an average of 1.7 million viewers on its opening weekend broadcast on Friday against Mark Cuban's Dallas Mavericks.


The NBA resumed its Covid-19 season on Thursday on Turner Sports' TNT network and averaged 2.9 million viewers for its doubleheader featuring the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers.

Tucker told CNBC he had no complaints about the NBA's bubble other than "not being able to leave and go anywhere." He praised the league's safety protocols and Disney's campus as being "the most sterile place I've ever been in my life."

"We have really good restaurants here; food has been great, we can go from hotel to hotel. They built a barbershop, a nail salon — anything you need, they have here.

"Hopefully, it can keep going the way that it's been going," Tucker said.

EBay CEO Jamie Iannone on selling classifieds business
EBay CEO Jamie Iannone on selling classifieds business