For those that remember, Spike Lee had an commercial alter-ego named Mars Blackmon who along with Michael Jordan, helped push Nike to the forefront and make Nike the “cool shoe to wear. It became impossible to turn on the television and not see Mars and MJ palling around and pimping the Nikes:
Years later, thanks to an innovative CEO in Phil Knight and the willingness of programs like the Oregon Ducks to become the poster team for the brand, Nike is still the top shoe company and most recruits want to go to a school that is a “Nike school”. Fortunately, Kentucky, like most top programs are Nike school and other schools feel that gives Nike schools an improper advantage in recruiting. Shoe companies like Adidas and Under Armour are the other suppliers of schools uniforms and they are always trying to find a way to fight the “Nike demon” and obviously they want to see college superstars in their shoes as well.
We have seen recently in the past a couple of high profile recruits choosing a certain school because of the school … or at least that was the general consensus. Most recently was the case of Shabazz Muhammad choosing UCLA, an Adidas school over Kentucky and Duke, which were Nike schools. It was something of an upset since both Kentucky and Duke made the NCAA Tournament last year and UCLA did not.
But UCLA is sponsored by Adidas. And well, where there is smoke, there is fire. Gary Parrish had this to say shortly after Shabazz’s commitment:
It would be naive for anybody to suggest the financial relationship Adidas has with people around Muhammad didn’t factor into his decision to attend a Pac-12 school coming off a disappointing season highlighted by controversy. I mean, Adidas has sponsored Muhammad’s summer team (Dream Vision) for years, and his tennis-playing sister (Asia Muhammad) has an Adidas contract even though she’s ranked outside the top 375 in the world. This stuff has to matter on some level, you know?
Gary Parrish said it. I didn’t. But now, Gary Parrish is back and he has some interesting comments about a pair of Kentucky basketball commitments and another shoe related situation: