LeBron James is lighting up the 2018 NBA Playoffs, but his dominance also extends to the footwear stakes. Market research firm NPD Group has confirmed that King James’ signature Nikes were the top selling on-court sneaker for 2017, contributing to Nike’s 73.5 per cent basketball performance market share.
LeBron’s former Cavaliers teammate Kyrie Irving had the second-best-selling shoe. He was also the only player in the top five to see an increase in signature shoe sales on the year prior. Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and Michael Jordan rounded out the best-selling quintet.
‘Irving moving out from under the shadow of LeBron has raised his personal star,’ says analyst Matt Powell. ‘He’s also still new enough with the signature shoe that fans are coming out and buying.’
Unfortunately, things aren’t too rosy for the basketball performance market: in 2017 there was a 13.6 per cent drop in sales. It's not just b-ballers that are struggling, either — performance categories are down across the board, without a single sport trending positively in the last three years.
‘Basketball has fallen from its height of being an important streetwear product to really out of fashion right now,’ says Powell. ‘We are very much in the sports lifestyle phase of the business right now.’
Given that the Retro market has grown three times the size of the performance market, we can’t expect things to change anytime soon. But hey, at least you won’t have to line up or pay resell for a fresh pair of LeBron 15s.