Adidas abandons NBA uniform contract

German sports apparel company decides to walk away from negotiations to extend contract with world’s most prominent basketball league.

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Starting in 2017, Adidas will no longer produce the uniforms for the NBA.

The German sports apparel company — with Portland-based North American headquarters — decided to walk away from negotiations with the world’s most prominent basketball league, choosing to spend its money elsewhere, the Portland Business Journal reports.

Chris Grancio, Adidas’ global basketball general manager, said the deal hasn’t been as lucrative as hoped. Adidas has been unable to make up lost ground with Nikeand its Jordan brand, which account for roughly 96 percent of the basketball shoe business.

“We haven’t been able to elevate our brand for the basketball consumer that we’re targeting,” Grancio said. “We ultimately decided that we would change our investment strategy and invest more in players on the court.”

Under Armour and Nike are expected to make a bid with Adidas out of the picture. Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank called Adidas his company’s “dumbest competitor” in February in light of its decision to increase spending on athlete endorsements.

Monday, PBJ reported that Adidas “isn’t de-emphasizing basketball,” but will stick to its plans of securing more athlete endorsers.

“We’re going to invest more money in basketball over the next five years than we ever have,” Grancio said in Matthew Kish’s story. “We thought now was the best time to finalize some key decisions. The NBA is a great partner. We think there are bigger opportunities in terms of player marketing and brand marketing.”

Adidas would like to double the number of NBA players on its payrolls from 70 to 140 by 2020, in addition to adding 250 NFL and 250 MLB players. It also would like to partner with more high school and college teams.

One of Portland’s favorite athletes, Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard, is signed to Adidas. The company recently announced the release of the second edition of the Florist City Collection sneaker, reports.

Each shoe features floral print designs and colors commemorating the spring celebrations in Portland and Washington D.C. This year, Lillard’s shoe was created in the theme of his signature D Lillard 1  shoe.

An Adidas news release says the Rose City edition D Lillard 1 shoe ($105) “pays homage to Portland’s famous rose gardens and Rose Festival with an all-red upper featuring a rose print Techfit bootie, green detailing mirrored after the flower’s stem and a raindrop splatter pattern to represent Portland’s weather. It also features a unique 4-Bar Friday about the Rose City in the sockliner.”

Adidas reported a wider-than-expected fourth-quarter loss March 5.

The company lost $155 million in the fourth quarter of 2014, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Adidas blamed the loss on higher input costs, negative currency effects and goodwill impairment losses of $82.5 million, largely related to the deterioration of the Russian ruble. It also registered an $86.8 million loss related to the sale of its Rockport unit. The company’s fourth-quarter sales rose 6.5% to $3.8 billion.

“I am as disappointed as you are that we did not reach all our financial goals set out at the beginning of last year,” Chief Executive Herbert Hainer said on a call with reporters. But, he said, “all in all, we are in much better shape today than we were five years ago.”


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