Hustle Mindset

How Carmelo Anthony Became The Jordan Brand’s First Signature Athlete With His Own Shoe, Earning A Reported 6-Year Deal Worth $3.5M Annually

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Basketball-player-turned-businessman Michael Jordan chose Carmelo Anthony as the first signature athlete for his well-known brand.

During his high school years, Anthony was encouraged by his coach, Mike Daniel, to enhance his basketball career by transferring from his Maryland school to Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, VA, right before his senior year, the New York Times previously reported. The former athlete became a top star while playing for the school, which was also sponsored by Jordan, per ESPN.

Before attending Oak Hill Academy, Anthony says he was simply focused on playing the sport and had no clear interest in working with a particular shoe brand at the time. He had played wearing both Adidas and Nike. However, Anthony stayed loyal to the Jordan brand at the new school and even wore the Jordan shoe to an Adidas summer camp.

“In the history of Adidas — and there wasn’t no disrespect to Adidas — I’m the only person that ever wore Jordans to an Adidas camp,” Anthony explained on the “7PM in Brooklyn with Carmelo Anthony & The Kid Mero” podcast.

Although other shoe brands such as Adidas and Reebok had their sights on Anthony, he later scaled his interest in the Jordan brand after meeting Michael Jordan in 2002 during the first Jordan Brand Classic game in Washington, DC.

“At that point, I’m locked into Jordan,” Anthony said on his podcast.

During the 2003 season, Anthony spent one year at Syracuse University, where he helped the team win the national championship in his Air Jordan XVIII, per ESPN. He was then drafted as a third-round draft pick to the Denver Nuggets, notes The Athletic, joining the ranks of Dwayne Wade (D-Wade) and LeBron James, who were also being courted by shoe companies.

Anthony’s league debut coincided with a Nike deal, and he later became affiliated with the Jordan brand, making him its first signature athlete.

“People don’t know my first year, I was signed to Nike, right? I didn’t have a signature shoe because the brand at that point in time, I was the first signature athlete,” Anthony told the “Uninterrupted” podcast. “I remember there wasn’t a plan at that point in time, right? But LeBron was at Nike, and MJ stepped up and said, ‘Look, I’ll pay half, Nike pay half. Look, I’ll take Melo, y’all got LeBron, Converse got D-Wade and [Chris] Bosh.’”

Anthony was helpful to the Jordan Brand as he had a pulse on the youth. In 2004, Anthony scored the brand’s first non-MJ signature sneaker with the arrival of the Jordan Melo 1.5, GQ reports.

“At Nike, I don’t know if he would’ve gotten that type of energy with LeBron sitting there,” Calvin Andrews, Anthony’s former agent, told Boardroom. “Melo was that person to reach that demographic. At that time, MJ was more mature in regard to his audience. Melo came in with a little bit of edge, street cred, and appeal. It really worked for the time.”

Anthony successfully inked a six-year contract worth a reported $3.5 million per year, though other sources suggest the agreement could have been worth as much as $40 million, mentions Boardroom. However, this marked the highest sum a basketball player had ever received from Jordan Brand for a contract at the time, according to another Boardroom article.

Anthony’s partnership would ultimately end after 13 shoe collaborations, per ESPN. Recently, Anthony expressed interest in seeing the return of some of his signature shoes, revealing he has been nudging the Jordan Brand for years in hopes of a revival.





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