Doncic was officially announced as the latest member of Jordan Brand on Thursday.
"It's a real honour to be part of the Jordan family, especially at such an exciting time for them and for me," Doncic said in a Jordan Brand release. "I'm looking forward to working with the team and hopefully making my own mark on the future of the brand."
Doncic's deal with Jordan Brand is a 'lucrative multi-year deal,' according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The reigning Rookie of the Year is having one of the more impressive sophomore campaigns in history and has gained a fair amount of traction in the early MVP race. As the 20-year-old continues to establish himself as a household name in basketball, it was only a matter of time before his sneaker free agency came to an end. A massive partnership with Jordan Brand isn't common, but we're going to break down everything you need to know about why it makes sense below.
Why Is Doncic A Sneaker Free Agent In The First Place?
To gain a better understanding of how the partnership between Doncic and Jordan Brand came together you must first understand why a 20-year-old player was free to sign a deal in the first place. Doncic, the No. 3 pick in last year's draft, entered the NBA while already having an endorsement deal with Nike.
He signed a two-year deal with The Swoosh while playing professionally for Real Madrid. That deal extended into his rookie season in the NBA but expired before this campaign. Doncic's professional stint overseas before making it to the NBA really put him in a unique position to cash in on a lucrative deal so soon.
Doncic's contemporaries from the 2018 draft are all still in the front-ends of their first endorsement deals. Deandre Ayton, the No. 1 overall pick, is in the second year of a four-year deal with Puma. Marvin Bagley III, the No. 2 pick, is in the second year of a five-year footwear and apparel deal with Puma. Jaren Jackson Jr., the No. 4 pick, is in the second year of a multiyear deal with Nike. Trae Young, who will always be linked to Doncic as a result of a draft-day trade, is in the second year of a multi-year footwear and apparel deal with Adidas.
As an international player heading into the draft, no one really knew what Doncic would be. Even those who were extremely high on him couldn't have imagined an MVP candidate in year two. And if it wasn't for his Nike deal while with Real Madrid, Doncic would be an MVP candidate on a cookie-cutter endorsement deal rather than the lucrative contract he's signing with Jordan Brand.
Why Jordan Brand Makes Sense
For a long time, Jordan Brand wasn't the endorsement deal athletes who aspired to be megastars wanted to sign. The legacy of Michael Jordan, arguably the NBA's greatest player ever, makes Jordan Brand great but it also casts a shadow that is hard to overcome. Jordan has a cult-like following and his retro sneakers have flourished long since his retirement.
The issue is marketing around players is difficult when the namesake of the brand will always be one of the biggest names in basketball. For the most part, the NBA's biggest names who have signature endorsement deals all have them with Nike or Adidas. It's easy to market the Nike LeBron line or the Adidas Harden line, the problem has always been the Jordan fill-in-the-blank line.
What's different now? Well, it seems like Jordan Brand is taking a tactical approach to building a young roster. The brand has always been reserved in what athletes it signed to deals and when those deals came into fruition it would usually be a veteran player that has proven themselves.
That mindset has shifted recently. Jordan Brand has added Zion Williamson, Jayson Tatum and Doncic in the past six months. All three players are 21 years old or younger and have shown incredible promise.
Why the confidence to build young now? Nike CEO Mark Parker announced this week that Jordan Brand surpassed its first-ever billion dollar quarter, calling the achievement 'an incredible milestone.' So clearly business is booming over at Jordan, which provides a bigger room for error and more high-risk, high-reward decisions.
If Doncic keeps ascending, it isn't outlandish to think he could become the NBA's biggest star. It hasn't been since Jordan's retirement that the league's biggest name laced up Jordan kicks.
Why Nike Seems To Be Out Of The Picture For A While
Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo might be Nike's last signature athlete for a while. While The Swoosh still has a claim to the most diverse and accomplished roster, it just simply doesn't have the ends to continue to add big names.
LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Paul George, Kyrie Irving and Antetokounmpo all have signature deals with Nike. That's a lot of money tied up and rightfully so. Nike's biggest asset is its stars, but those same stars are the ones that will keep them out of the picture for any big names in the near future.
Zion Williamson was a heavy favorite to sign with Nike ahead of the 2019 NBA Draft, but he ultimately signed with Jordan Brand. Jayson Tatum seemed to be outplaying his standard Nike deal when the brand decided to shift him over to Jordan Brand, likely signaling that his ascension could not be properly marketed without making the switch.
If Nike's roster wasn't so crowded with the players Doncic is battling for NBA supremacy against, it isn't out of the realm of possibility that the 20-year-old would've inked a deal with The Swoosh instead.
With Nike out of the picture, Jordan Brand was the clear choice for Doncic's services.