Miami Heat superstar LeBron James easily advanced to the second round of the NBA playoffs after making a quick work on the Charlotte Bobcats. And apparently, he's not only moving on in the postseason, as he seems to be also moving on from his endorsement deal with Nike to sign a lucrative contract with Chinese shoe brand Li-Ning, according to rumors circulating in the internet.
In an article on News Nerd.com, James reportedly signed a seven-year deal with Li-Ning, a brand previously endorsed by Shaquille O'Neal, Baron Davis and currently by James' teammate Dywane Wade.
The news article stated James' decision to leave the sportswear giant stemmed from his disappointment on his latest signature sneaker manufactured by Nike - the LeBron 11. The Miami Heat star was not reportedly happy with the designs and the quality of the shoe.
"News of a split had circulated throughout the rumor mill since the inception of LeBron's latest signature shoe, the Nike LeBron 11. It's been reported that the 2-time champion was never happy with the design but was assured by Nike executives that the performance qualities would far outweigh any aesthetic issue he had with the model," News Nerd reported.
"This promise turned out to be untruthful, with LeBron revealing to pundits that the shoe felt "unnatural" and "uncomfortable on the court". This led to Nike's current embarrassing predicament; LeBron refusing to wear the sneaker."
The news site also quoted James confirming the end of his partnership with Nike, which signed to an unprecedented $90 million deal right after his high school years.
"We wish Nike much more success and hopefully we can continue to move forward & break ground with Li-Ning. I just think with a brand as big as LeBron James, we shouldn't have to deal with products that don't meet his standards. And for them not to consult with LeBron before finalizing the 11 was somewhat distasteful. But again, we wish them the best and we're happy about our new situation."
Report is Hoax
Calm down LeBron fans, you're man is staying with Nike. There's no confirmed for the Kins Li-Ning transfer. Well, at least for now.
James, who is racking up majority of his earning from his endorsement deals, is a shrewd operator not only on the court but in business as well. He already stated that he wanted to build a business empire before he leaves the game for good, and he's aware that right decision would help him reach his goal.
There's no doubt Nike is the leading sportswear-maker in the world. However, its ongoing competition coming with Adidas along with the emergence of up-and-coming brands such as Under-Armor and Li-Ning made the market a bit saturated.
Moreover, at this point of his career, James would always favor companies capable of giving him massive contract and the opportunity to tap a huge market such as China. Not to mention the influence of Li-Ning's current star D-Wade who was successful then in bringing James from Cleveland to South Beach in 2010.
James' is still Nike's possession, but soon the Heat star could be 'Li-Ning' for a change.