He signed a $90M contract with Nike before ever playing in a NBA game
Before the Cleveland Cavaliers even won the draft lottery to secure the rights to LeBron James, Nike already locked up the emerging superstar to a $90 million contract, the richest rookie shoe deal ever offered to an athlete at the time. To put things into perspective — LeBron’s $90M deal was more than double the amount of money Nike had paid Kobe Bryant just one month later. At the time, Kobe was already a three-time NBA Champion, and LeBron hadn’t played a single NBA game! LeBron’s deal marked the end of a two year battle between Nike, Reebok, and Adidas to land James. It’s safe to say LeBron was worth every penny — in 2014 alone — sale of LeBron’s signature shoe earned Nike more than $340 million.