NBA players are the highest paid professional athletes in the United States with the average NBA player now averaging $4.9 million per year from the league alone. When you factor in endorsements deals from places like athletic wear companies, sports drinks, and electronics manufacturers, that number can easily double or triple.
Damian Lillard Bio: When the time came for Damian Lillard to release his first shoe via his deal with Adidas in 2015, there wasn’t any doubt that his heritage would play a major role in the eventual creation of the final product.
Heritage has always been important to the Portland Trail Blazers guard, who isn’t just spouting empty words with his rap song “Loyal To The Soil”. No matter how many points he scores or how much money he makes, Dame DOLLA has never forgotten where he came from.
It’s why he returns to Oakland, Calif., every offseason to work out in his old high school gym, which has been newly renovated thanks to a generous gift from Lillard that also saw the addition of both a new weight room, a new music room, and a computer lab that gives students the chance to design their own shoes.
It’s why he made his shoe available in purple and black as a nod to his alma mater Weber State, who gave him the chance to prove he could play at the game’s highest levels. It’s why he returned to Weber State to get his degree in 2015, a move that helped his old high school point to him as motivation for struggling students.
It’s also why he wears the number 0 on the court: when interpreted another way, the number looks like the letter O, which has been a constant in each place that has shaped the person he became.
Damian Lillard & The Letter “O”
Whether it’s been Oakland, where he bounced around at two different high schools before landing at Oakland High School, Ogden, Utah, where he dazzled the Big Sky Conference while building Weber State into one of the league’s most successful teams, or Oregon, the home of the Portland Trail Blazers that he now stars for, the letter O has always been a constant presence in Lillard’s life.
It’s why his debut album as Dame DOLLA was titled The Letter O and why his Dame 3 shoes feature his initials interlocking to form the same letter.
The SHOES Tell His Story
Even the shoes themselves tell a story of what made Damian Lillard into the No. 6 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and helped him sign one of the richest contracts in NBA history in 2015, when he inked a five-year extension with the Blazers worth $151 million.
The shoes themselves feature blade traction in the form of a sole design that resembles the milk crates that served as Lillard’s first basketball hoop. As a child, Lillard’s grandfather nailed a milk crate to a pole to create a makeshift hoop for Damian, and it was the time spent on that hoop that formed the foundation of a shooter who averaged 19 points in his rookie season and only improved from that lofty mark.
- Damian Lillard shoes: Foot Locker – Grab a coupon for up to 20% off + free shipping
- Damian Lillard: Finish Line – View coupons
*I just tried the Foot Locker coupon and it works towards D Lillard shoes, (plus free shipping) but if there is a hot new release it might be excluded from promo codes for a while
Beyond the traction, the Dame 3 from Adidas features the cushion that gives the guard the bounce that has helped him play well beyond his size. Even though size isn’t much of a problem for him anymore now that he stands 6-foot-3, the bounce is a throwback to when he left high school at 5-foot-11, and needed that extra edge to get over players who had several inches on him.
Damian Lillard’s HUGE Signature Shoe Deal
Just before signing his massive NBA contract extension, the 2013 Rookie of the Year inked a mega-deal in with Adidas. According to ESPN, Damian’s shoe deal could be worth $100 million with incentives and options over 10 years.
That kind of “shoe money” eclipses even Kyrie Irving’s Nike shoe deal, and puts him in the top of the sneaker-deal stratosphere with players like Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose.
Even though his shoe deal numbers are mind-boggling, the shoes themselves are priced pretty fairly for a signature shoe, with the D Lillard 2’s currently selling for about $100 or so. Looks like the newly released D Lillard 3’s are more, but still in that range. (The current 15% off free shipping coupon code for Foot Locker works towards them)
The Dame 3’s relatively low price point is another hallmark of Lillard, who doesn’t want to ever leave any doubt about where his roots lie. He is involved in every bit of the creation of his shoe with Adidas, and both he and the shoe company make sure they’re on the same page when it comes to the message that he wants to come from his shoes.
“His story is all about his path and humble beginnings to getting where he is today,” Adidas designer Jessie Rademacher said.
“His whole goal is to inspire people, so he’s extremely connected to the community. When we design this shoe, we consider everything: keeping the price down so that it’s accessible, the amount of details that are personal for him, and making the sneaker extremely customizable because everyone has different footshapes.”
Kristaps Porzingis bio: On the surface, Kristaps Porzingis isn’t supposed to be the critical player that he is for the New York Knicks. That’s probably why many Knicks fans booed when their team “wasted” a lottery pick on the largely-unknown, gangly 20-year old Latvian.
What was surprising was his impressive combination of size and skills that quickly made him a a star for the Knicks, and propelling him to a spot on the NBA All-Rookie First Team. Since, he has become one of the league’s most popular young players, and has also earned the undisputed title of “the most popular man in Latvia.”
Latvia: Not Really A Hot-Bed of Basketball Talent
His country of origin certainly doesn’t suggest success at basketball’s highest level. His home nation of Latvia has a proud athletic tradition, but that tradition is in ice hockey, not basketball. With a temperature that regularly pushes into the 20s, many Latvians spend their winters on the pond rather than in the gym.
The Baltic states do have a proud basketball past, but that past belongs almost exclusively to Latvia’s southern neighbor Lithuania. Unlike the Lithuanians, the Latvians have never qualified for the Olympics and couldn’t make a team of NBA players from their country, having just four Latvians who have gone on to the NBA. Of those four, only Porzingis and Andris Biedrins have managed to reach the 100-game mark in the NBA.
Basketball is In Porzingis’ Blood
But basketball has always been in Kristaps Porzingis’ blood. Back when he was still wearing a Carmelo Anthony jersey as a kid, it was widely assumed that he was going to follow the path his family had set for him. As the son of a former semi-pro player and a former Latvia women’s youth team player, Porzingis had the right bloodlines to break the mold of his country and become the kind of success that Latvia had never before seen on the basketball court.
Breaking the mold was one thing. Becoming the face of one of the most visible franchises in the world was quite another. Far from the bust that New York fans feared he would become on draft night, when he was picked fourth overall in the 2015 NBA draft to become the highest-picked player in the NBA draft of any of the three Baltic sates, Porzingis has instead become one of the Knicks’ most consistent players.
Kristaps Porzingis Bio: A Deadly 7+ Foot Tall Latvian Sharp-Shooter!
His towering 7’3” height gives him the size to deal with anyone inside as one of the tallest players NBA history, but he’s also nimble on his feet and can create his own shots from down low when necessary. In short, he creates a match-up nightmare for the defense where it’s difficult to take anything away from him because of his options.
It’s why he’s in line to get a raise from his $4+ million salary when his rookie contract expires. It’s why he’s become a consistent scorer and given the Knicks a true threat both inside and outside the lane. It’s why he outplayed his rookie contract in his first season in the league, becoming the first rookie in league history to post more than 1,000 points, 75 three-pointers, 500 rebounds and 100 blocks in a single season.
- The latest Kristaps Porzingis stats & salary info – espn.com
- Our favorite Kristaps Porzingis dunks & blocks on Pinterest
It’s also why Adidas chose to give Porzingis the richest shoe contract ever awarded to a European NBA player of any nationality, despite Porzingis being a mere 21 years old and in the midst of his second NBA season at the time of the offer.
The future is brighter than ever.
— adidas Basketball (@adidasHoops) October 25, 2016
Kristaps Porzingis Signs Shoe Deal w/ Adidas is Worth Millions
Nike and it’s Jordan brand controls a staggering 95% market share in basketball shoes, but Adidas just took out a sling shot and is trying to channel David vs. Goliath with their Porzingis shoe deal. (A very tall David, I might add!)
So, how much is Kristaps’ shoe contract worth? Like most NBA shoe deals, the one Adidas signed with Porzingis is based largely on incentives and bonuses, but is valued at $3-6 million dollars a year. That’s up there with the best, rivaling Nike’s signature shoe deal with Kyrie Irving.
That’s also the biggest shoe deal ever for a European basketball player, and a lot more than the $25,000 a year he was making with the Nike shoe deal he signed in 2012. It’s also enough to convince him to ditch the Nike Kobe X Elites that he used to wear. (Which he colored blue with magic marker!)
When asked by The Vertical about the shoe contract, Porzingis said:
“All I can say is both Nike and adidas are first-class companies… I would be lucky to align myself with either one. The amount of attention I received was flattering, but right now I am letting my agents handle the business side of things.”
Kyrie Irving Bio: 2011, the year that Kyrie Irving arrived in Cleveland as the No. 1 draft pick, was the beginning of a new era in Cavaliers basketball. Irving’s arrival came at the perfect time for the recent power of the Cuyahoga, (The County where Cleveland is located, named after the mighty Cuyahoga indians) as it followed one of the darkest seasons in the Cavaliers’ 45-year history.
Not only had Cleveland lost LeBron James to Miami in free agency the year before, (when he took his talents to South Beach) but the Cavaliers had completed an embarrassing 19-63 campaign that saw them lose 22 consecutive games, a drastic fall for a team that was a perennial championship contender as recently as the previous season.
In Kyrie We Trust!
Into the void stepped the consensus top amateur player in 2011, the Australian-born Kyrie Irving. Though hampered by an injured big toe that allowed him to play just 11 games in his Duke career, the guard’s phenomenal skills were obvious, possessing the vision to find a teammate on the fly, the agility to get into position, and the marksmanship to nail an open look at the basket.
Gradually, Kyrie Irving helped build the foundation to resurrect the Cavaliers from one of the league’s worst teams into a true contender for the title. The Cavaliers recognized what they had when after two seasons they inked him to a five-year, $90 million contract extension ($18 million / year) in 2014.
Their faith was almost instantly rewarded. When James returned to Ohio, Irving had created the atmosphere that allowed the league’s best player to take the Cavaliers over the hurdle that stymied his first tenure in Cleveland.
In two seasons alongside Kevin Love, Cleveland’s Big Three produced 110 regular-season wins, two Eastern Conference championships and the real pinnacle: bringing the city of Cleveland its first championship of any kind since 1964 by dethroning the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals.
Kyrie Irving Top 10 Highlights
Kyrie’s Father, Drederick Irving “Hunger & Humility”
Kyrie’s Mother passed away when he was only 4 years old, so the responsibility of raising Kyrie fell on his dad, Drederick’s shoulders . Throughout his son’s life, Drederick was never willing to let Kyrie settle for less than was possible for him to achieve, both on and off the court.
For the guard from West Orange, N.J., hunger and humility are values that his father Drederick instilled in him at a young age.
Whether it was in the classroom, in the home, or in the gym, Drederick always made sure that Kyrie set a reasonable goal for himself, a value that Kyrie still practices and plans to pass on to his daughter as she grows up. Often, he writes down both his goals and inspiring quotes to help guide him throughout the season and throughout his life.
Kyrie Irving: It’s Gotta’ Be the Shoes!
A large part of Irving’s success in resurrecting the Cavaliers has been having the right shoes on his feet. There might be no position where shoes are more critical to success than a guard in the NBA because of the need for quick thinking and decision-making; and that’s before throwing in the nasty crossover dribbles that make a guard like Kyrie Irving so difficult for opposing defenses to stop.
When trying to knife through a defense to create a shot for either himself or a teammate, Irving often has to maneuver through a small window, with no more than a split-second to make his decision on which way to take the basketball before the defender realizes what he’s doing and cuts him off.
Executing such a move requires a lightning-fast first step and complete trust in your shoes’ ability to hold their ground in response to the force placed on them. You might say Kyrie’s shoes are the literal foundation of his success.
Kyrie Irving Sneakers from Nike: The Kyrie 3 – “JBY” and “H + H”
The Kyrie 3 shoe grants that freedom of motion with its pair of traction pods, giving the wearer total control over when they stop and where they stop. In the NBA, that can be the difference between creating a basket and creating a turnover.
“This game is separated by very finite moments where you have to get your shot off,” Irving said. “My shoe speaks to that. Being able to stop on a dime and cross over and go another direction, I can’t wait for players to try it.”