Two great brands are today connected more than ever.

Nike is this year celebrating its 50-year anniversary.
Nike is part of the NBA league since its beginnings and has been growing its influence on the league and the sports since the start. Legendary swoosh and the blue and red logo have been and are writing history. Their stories are strongly intertwined. To celebrate Nikes’ anniversary we have prepared a story of the biggest basketball league in the world and the most popular basketball sneaker company. Nike & NBA.

50 years ago, Nike set a foundation, that is still standing today.

50 years ago, Blue Ribbon Sports became Nike and introduced its legendary swoosh logotype. At that time the NBA league was on a rise, but the main sneakers in the basketball world were Converse and Puma. Their sneakers were also most commonly worn by the basketballs’ biggest stars – Converse had Julius Erving and Puma had Walt Fraizer. As many experts have confirmed, the first basketball player in Nikes, was Spenser Haywood. He was an important step in brand recognition in the league, but further steps had to be added to the brand’s visibility. Only six years later George ‘’The Iseman’’ Gervin was in 1978 the first player to be recognized as the Nike ambassador. Nike had its first basketball sneaker success with the legendary Nike Blazer, a popular hi-top sneaker. But this was only the beginning, the first foundation stone in the Nike Basketball success.

When we talk about Nike basketball and the NBA league, the year 1982 must be one of the most important ones. Nike Air Force 1 saw the light of the day. Moses Malone, Michael Cooper, Bobby Jones, Calvin Natt, Mychal Thompson, and Jamal Wilkins were the ‘’Original 6’’ first six players playing in and promoting the Nike Air Force 1. Nike’s basketball division was getting stronger and stronger. Nike shoes were gaining popularity and Nike was becoming one of the most recognized basketball sneaker brands.

Charles Barkley je bil pomemben del kampanje Nike
Charles Barkley was an important part of the Nike campaign.

Nike, Michael Jordan, and the NBA league

When we think about the Nike brand and the Air model, we automatically think about the six-time NBA champion. In 1985 the first contract between Nike and Michael Jordan was signed, the agreement that forever changed basketball sneakers, basketball, and their popularity. Air Jordan 1 was released in 1985, an important pillar in Nike history. The brand thought very carefully about how to increase the popularity of the brand and its models. In the next 2 seasons, the Dunk and Terminator High models were distributed to universities throughout the states , which was an important move in Nike’s popularity. Nike became the first choice for the majority of NBA basketball players.

Michael Jordan was becoming more popular by the day, and so did Nike, in basketball, sports, and in the mainstream. With successful marketing campaigns, Nike infiltrated the popular culture and everyday lives of people worldwide. Even though the swoosh soon became bigger than the league, it shows a lot about the league and its rapid rise in popularity in the 90s. With the birth of the internet, basketball sneakers were already must-have wardrobe accessories. Michael’s career was ending, but that was for from the case for Nike basketball. After MJ, the new stars emerged, the new MJ, the new King. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James lead Nike into the new century making the brand more popular and stronger than ever.

Michael Jordan in Nike v ligi NBA
Michael Jordan and Nike in the NBA league

Nike after 50 years in the NBA league

In its first 50 years, Nike created a gigantic company, that is still growing each year. Today the majority of basketball players are wearing Nike sneakers and are committed to the brand. Who are today’s biggest stars that swore by Nike? The top 3 guys for Nike basketball are LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. James is with Nike since 2003 when he first came to the league. Kevin Durant joined him 4 years later and Giannis signed his first signature shoe deal in 2017. 2 important pieces in Nike NBA are also Kyrie Irving and Paul George.

In 2015 the partnership between the NBA league and Nike became even stronger and also official. The 8-year agreement was signed stating that Nike became the official sportswear partner of the NBA league, most importantly the NBA jerseys. Agreement came into existence in the 2017/18 season and Nike swoosh appeared on the NBA jerseys. It was a historic moment in basketball history and Nike was again part of the history.

The nostalgia of 80is and 90iswill stay forever, and the other decades will join it. Nike and NBA are stepping hand in hand, as more than ⅔ of the league players are wearing the Nike brand. Nike has outgrown basketball courts long before that. The future will show how far can they go, and where will they be present. Because up until today, they have excited us every year and if we can predict the future by looking at the past, we can expect no less in the following years. One day, this will all be history. The history that is written by Nike.

NIKE in NBA skozi petdesetletno zgodovino
NIKE in NBA skozi petdesetletno zgodovino