Athletic-shoe giant Nike, which built its global franchise in part through selling signature shoes and apparel of celebrity athletes including Michael Jordan, is discussing opportunities for its latest star player: Jeremy Lin.
The Oregon-based sports giant, which signed Lin when he went professional in 2010, last week introduced "Linsanity" T-shirts at Foot Locker to great success, Charlie Denson, president of Nike brand, said in an interview. That was just the first move, however.
"We are in development of a longer range plan where we can leverage Jeremy and all the excitement that he’s created in the market place," said Denson, who said he has not talked to Lin but said he is hoping to see him during the NBA All-Star game in Orlando, Fla., this weekend.
"There are discussions on what we can do with him going forward, whether it’s through footwear or appearances or other opportunities to use his new found celebrity. On the footwear side, we are trying to do things on a quick turn basis and others on a long-term basis."
Nike last summer sponsored a tour for Lin to travel to Taiwan, where his parents emigrated to the US from.
As Lin’s popularity grows, Nike’s rivals such as Adidas also are eyeing him.
Adidas, which holds the NBA apparel license, plans to bring its own Linsanity jersey across its network of 6,700 stores in China, The Wall Street Journal quoted Adidas Chief Executive Herbert Hainer as saying. Hainer said he is looking for fresh talent like Lin, who The Journal said has another year of contract left with Nike.
Nike’s Denson declined to disclose the company’s contract terms with Lin, but said Nike is developing a "long-term relationship" with Lin.
"For us to be associated with him right now is a real benefit to us," Denson told MarketWatch. Nike’s "relationship with him is really strong and really well defined. He’s not just a flash in the pan. What that means to his relationship with us and how we can leverage that remains to be seen. But we are very excited."