Nike deal only part of NBA licensing story

Nike deal only part of NBA licensing story

By Terry Lefton, Staff Writer


This season teams are allowed to have as many as five jersey looks.
Courtesy of: NIKE
While Nike’s new eight-year on-court apparel deal is the biggest news among NBA licensees, it’s not the only noteworthy development.

Nike’s new NBA jerseys debuted at retail Oct. 12. Bringing on Nike as the master licensee catalyzed a reshuffle among the NBA’s other apparel licensees. So, along with Nike supplying on-court togs, including “authentic” on-court jerseys ($250) and the “Swingman” ($110), Fanatics’ new rights allow it to sell “Fast Break” replica NBA jerseys for $70, which is a new low price point for the product.

’47 Brand also has expanded apparel rights. Mitchell & Ness, sold last year by Adidas to a company headed by former Nike marketer Kevin Wulff, now has headwear and apparel exclusivity within the retro “Hardwood Classics” line.

“In our first year post-Adidas, we have re-engineered, in large part, a lot of our apparel business,” said longtime NBA consumer products chief Sal LaRocca. “Our entire apparel category will look very different.”

Merchandise tied to the Warriors lead sales at Fanatics.
While Minnesota’s redesigned uniform has generated buzz at retail, there should be a lot of choice. Each team is allowed to have four different jersey looks, and a fifth, under the Hardwood Classics line, if it so chooses.

“Most teams will have four different [authentic] jerseys; the question is, how often they will wear them” on court, LaRocca said.

As is the case with its footwear, domestic retail distribution for Nike’s NBA-licensed products will be smaller than Adidas’ was. However, outside the U.S., Nike’s NBA-licensed apparel will have a larger retail presence than Adidas.

LaRocca said he expects sales of Nike’s NBA apparel to be about 60 percent domestic. He sees more of the NBA’s total licensing revenue coming from overseas. They have been 65 percent domestic, 35 percent offshore, for a few years. By the end of this season, LaRocca sees that split changing to 60/40.

Top NBA sellers
   Across Fanatics’ sites from July 1 to Oct. 10

Top Teams
  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers
  3. Los Angeles Lakers
  4. Boston Celtics
  5. Chicago Bulls

Top Players
  1. Steph Curry (Warriors)
  2. LeBron James (Cavaliers)
  3. Kyrie Irving (Celtics)
  4. Kevin Durant (Warriors)
  5. Russell Westbrook (Thunder)
  Source: Fanatics
NBA consumer product sales have grown by double-digits over the past several years. LaRocca sees that pace continuing through this season, paced by Nike’s new apparel, video games (the league’s biggest consumer product category) and continued growth in China, the league’s second-biggest market.

Trending teams include the Boston Celtics, who added Kyrie Irving; Minnesota, a tribute to its uniform redesign; Oklahoma City, which added forward Paul George; the L.A. Lakers; and Golden State and Cleveland, which have competed in the last three NBA Finals.

Hot rookies include the Lakers’ Lonzo Ball, the only new player ranked among top players in jersey sales.