Victor Oladipo & Tim Hardaway Jr. Discuss the Process of Signing with a Sneaker Brand

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Michael Jordan originally wanted to sign with adidas.

MJ was a sneaker free agent after finishing at North Carolina and declaring for the 1984 NBA Draft, and he had the Three Stripes on his mind. With Converse already loaded with a full roster that included Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, other brands lacking reputation, and Nike struggling, His Airness didn’t even want to meet with anyone but adidas. Paying his respects to coach Dean Smith and his Tar Heel roots, Jordan met with the All-Star brand, but was unimpressed by their level of opportunity and innovation going forward. Then, after refusing to get on a plane to Beaverton, he was convinced by his parents to meet with Nike and received an unheard of offer that would make him the center of everything Swoosh. Even then, MJ personally reported the deal to his original favorite and told them that all they had to do was come close, and he would be theirs. Jordan’s dream adidas offer never came, and the rest is history.

Few sneaker courtships have been as publicized as Michael Jordan’s (except perhaps LeBron’s), but many high-profile NBA Draft picks are instantly recruited by a number different footwear brands. From the minute a top prospect declares for the draft, the competition is on for whose logo is going to be on the only externally-branded accessory that NBA players are allowed to wear. Meetings, wear tests, and headquarter visits are all included in the recruitment process for the incoming rookies who are all aspiring to be the next Air Jordan. We recently caught up with first-rounders Victor Oladipo and Tim Hardaway Jr. to get a better understanding of the intricate process of choosing a sneaker deal. Both of our featured subjects wore multiple brands over the course of their first NBA Summer League experiences, with Oladipo eventually signing with Jordan Brand and Hardaway Jr. inking with adidas. Read through the pages to get insight into what it’s like to choose a brand endorsement contract, and keep signing in to Nice Kicks for everything sneakers.

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