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Kobe Bryant Signs With Nike

June 25, 2003 GMT

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ Kobe Bryant agreed to terms with Nike on Monday, becoming the latest basketball star to sign with the sneaker giant.

Bryant, who paid $8 million to get out of his six-year contract with Adidas Salomon about a year ago, wore several brands of shoes last season while negotiating with Nike and Reebok. Nike declined to disclose terms of the deal or possible plans for a Bryant signature shoe or apparel line.

Monday’s signing came about a month after Nike inked sponsorship deals with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, who are both expected to be among the top three picks in Thursday’s draft.


``The combination of one of the world’s best and proven NBA players such as Kobe, partnered with the exciting fresh talents of newcomers LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, will generate phenomenal energy for the brand throughout the world,″ Nike spokesman Mark Shapiro said.

Bryant helps solidify Nike’s dominance in the market for basketball sneakers. The company controls about 40 percent of the U.S. athletic shoe industry, more than the share of Reebok and Adidas combined, according to trade newsletter Sporting Goods Intelligence.

Nike won a bidding war with rivals Reebok and Adidas to secure a contract with James worth about $90 million over seven years _ the most lucrative contract ever for an athlete turning pro. Anthony, projected as the No. 3 draft pick, signed a six-year deal reportedly valued at $21 million.