The Shoe Edition

Nike Re-Signs Kobe

Nike Kobe Bryant 24 Premium
Nike Kobe Bryant 24 Premium

Wherever Kobe Bryant is playing, he'll be wearing Nikes. Sources are telling CNBC that Nike has re-signed the guard to a multi-year extension. The exact length of the deal and the terms are unknown. It is also not clear whether Bryant's contract would vary depending on the market in which he is playing.

Although it was expected that Chinese sports and apparel company Li-Ning, which has Damon Jones and Bryant's former teammate Shaquille O'Neal under contract, would make a substantial bid for Bryant, sources say that it only got serious with Nike.

Bryant signed a five-year deal with Nike worth $45 million in June 2003, a little more than a year after his six-year deal with Adidas expired.

About a month after Nike signed Bryant, he was charged with sexual assault.

While other companies chose not to renew Bryant's contracts – Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Spalding and Nutella -- among them. But Nike and collectibles company Upper Deck stood by him.

Nike didn't debut a Bryant shoe until March 2005 and didn't support it with advertising and actually waited until July 2005 – more than two years into the deal, once the civil case was settled and the criminal case was dropped – to debut the association in a Sports Illustrated print ad.

The first shoe with Bryant's name on it was the Zoom Kobe I, which hit the market in February 2006. The Zoom Kobe II hit stores in April of this year and sources say they Nike officials are planning on launching the Zoom Kobe III on January 1, 2008.

Bryant's marketability has come full circle since the day he was charged with sexual assault and some advertising executives labeled him as unmarketable. He changed his jersey from No. 8 to No. 24 in the offseason and he will likely finish as the league's best selling jersey this both the U.S. and China. Bryant last finished No. 1 in the league in 2002-2003 – before he was charged.

As Bryant goes through the greatest sports marketing comeback of all time, Nike -- which was willing to stick through it with him -- will now reap the reward. Of course with the Lakers not making it past the first round of the playoffs in the last three seasons, it isn't all that positive and Bryant -- assuming he stays with the the team -- needs to lead the team deeper into the playoffs to stay relevant. Bryant led the league in scoring with 32.8 points per game this past season.

Adidas Signs Billups To Lifetime Deal

Adidas announced today that it signed Detroit Pistons guard Chauncey Billups to a lifetime deal. The deal is for the remainder of Billups basketball career with the option for a continued consulting contract. Billups' first signature shoe called the C-Billups launched globally in March. The only other active NBA player who has a lifetime contract with a shoe brand is Allen Iverson, who signed a lifetime endorsement deal with Reebok in Nov. 2001. Adidas now owns Reebok.

Consumer Reports Tests $14.98 Starburys

I love the look of the latest group of Steve & Barry's Starbury sneakers, but I'm embarrassed to say that I've never tried them on. Well, Consumer Reports had kids test the shoes endorsed by Stephon Marbury and Ben Wallace on and off the court. The results weren't all that surprising. Six out of 10 kids said that they wouldn't buy the shoes to use in practice and in games, but more than half did say that they would wear them off the court. "They may not be the best shoe if you're a serious basketball player," said Todd Young of Consumer Reporters. "But they do seem to be a well-made shoe, and for $15 dollars are definitely worth a try."

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