LeBron James’s first National Basketball Association championship would help add $4 billion in revenue from China for Nike Inc. (NKE), according to the first sports marketing employee in the country for the world’s largest sporting goods maker.
Adding a championship to a basketball resume that includes an Olympic gold medal in Beijing and two NBA Most Valuable Player awards is imperative for James to achieve the marketing might of fellow Nike endorsers Michael Jordan, who won six titles with the Chicago Bulls, and Kobe Bryant, a five-time winner with the Los Angeles Lakers.
“LeBron is white-hot with the Chinese basketball-loving youth, but his popularity and influence outside of that circle is limited,” said Terry Rhoads, who left as Nike’s China sports marketing director in 2002 after eight years to form Shanghai- based Zou Marketing. “One reason is the lack of titles.”
Nike posted $1.96 billion in sales from China, the world’s most populous nation, in the 12 months through January.
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