How Adidas' change of heart cost them LeBron James' signature

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LeBron James is one of the biggest names in the world of sport and his lifetime deal with Nike is a partnership that is mutually beneficial to both parties.

However, the 'King's' endorsement history could have looked very different had Adidas not let him slip through their hands when he was a teenager.

When James entered the league straight from high school in 2003, he was the hottest property in sports marketing, and it seemed Adidas had wrapped up a 10-year, $100 million contract with the boy from Akron.

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At the time it was a lot of money, but with Kobe Bryant and Tacy McGrady making plenty of money for the company they, according to Sonny Vaccaro, who was working with Adidas at the time, decided to lower their offer to $70 million at the last minute, allowing Nike to swoop.

Their rivals put forward $90 million over the same time span and snapped up James from their biggest competitor.

Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day

Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day

Vaccaro, a former sports marketing executive, told The Ringer that - despite the number they offered James at the time being unheard of in that field - Adidas had known about it for months before having a change of heart at the final minute.

How history could've looked so different had they trusted Vaccaro's instinct to put the future of the brand in a young LeBron's hands.

LeBron James
Cleveland Cavaliers
Central Division
Eastern Conference

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