Three weeks after the Houston Rockets star was deemed the Players Choice MVP by his NBA contemporaries, the three-time All-Star agreed to a deal with Adidas worth a combined $200 million over 13 years. Harden had been with Nike previously, but they decided not to match the Adidas offer. A person with knowledge of the contract confirmed it to USA TODAY Sports, but spoke on the condition of anonymity because financial terms are not typically disclosed
By doing this deal, Harden becomes the latest NBA player to land the kind of money from a shoe company that rivals the salary he earns from his team. Harden, who was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Houston Rockets in Oct. 2012, has a combined $50.3 million remaining in the final three seasons of his contract with the Rockets. There were strong signs that Adidas had won this particular shoe battle in Los Angeles last weekend, when — as noted by TMZ Sports — Harden's new girlfriend,Khloe Kardashian, was wearing a jacket with the company's logo emblazoned on the back while watching him compete in the Drew League.
"We're a brand of creators and James embodies that more than any athlete in the game," Chris Grancio, adidas Global Basketball General Manager, said in a statement. "His addition to the adidas basketball family is a game changer. This partnership gives him the opportunity to achieve his goals and express himself in a totally new way as a creator. He's already one of the most recognizable sports figures because of his game, his look, his hunger to win and his style on the off the court. His ceiling is far from reached, which tells you the future for him and our brand looks incredible.
"We have a lot of energy in basketball right now and James takes that momentum to a whole new level. James isn't like anyone else. He approaches the game with a unique mentality and strives to go against convention. When he signed with the Rockets he moved from being the sixth man to the lead man, proving his willingness to establish himself as a resounding superstar."
Harden's deal, according to the statement, will also include "off-court signature footwear and apparel collections as well as marketing plans (and) Harden traveling on extensive brand tours in Europe and Asia."
Nike's decision to let Harden go comes a year after they made his former teammate, the Thunder's Kevin Durant, a top priority by matching the five-year, $250 million offer he had received from Under Armour. Adidas went all in with the Portland Trail Blazers'Damian Lillard in May, giving him a deal that could be worth more than $100 million and has an eight-year base in terms of length.
The Washington Wizards' John Wall, Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose and Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins of the Minnesota Timberwolves are the other Adidas headliners of this modern era.
Harden, who fell short to the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry in the race for league MVP that is voted on by media members, averaged 27.4 points, seven assists and 5.7 rebounds last season before Houston lost to the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. ESPN.com first reported that Nike had informed Harden that they would not match the Adidas offer.