Thursday, April 25, 2013

Will He or Won't He Play?: Adidas’ $250 Million Problem

Back in 2012, Adidas decided to invest a big-time shoe deal in Chicago Bulls star point guard Derrick Rose, which was valued by numerous sources at over $200 million dollars. Adidas has been number two in the athletic wear industry behind Nike (and Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony) for decades and they see Rose as the X-Factor that could potentially close the gap on their rivals from Oregon.

At the time of the deal, Rose was the reigning NBA MVP and was the definition of the perfect athlete, possessing unrivaled passion and desire in a young, strong 24-year old body. Rose was destined to lead the Chicago Bulls (and Adidas) into a profitable 13-year run of dominance…on and off the court.

Then, during Game One of the Opening Round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs versus the Philadelphia 76ers, Rose suffered a devastating ACL tear. The injury occurred on April 28 and as of writing, Rose has yet to return from the injury despite being cleared to play without risk of re-injury back in February. This is where Adidas’ potential issue arises…

Rose has always been impenetrable from the criticism usually reserved for the likes of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony because he has always come off as humble, hard-working, and all about his team. But that sentiment has turned very grim in recent weeks as basketball pundits and fans alike have begun to question Rose’s number one asset: his heart. Fans cite Rose’s apparent uncertainty on his future in interviews (giving cryptic answers such as “Only God knows”) and other factors (including the case of New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert, who tore his ACL the same exact day as Rose yet returned months ago as well as Rose’s own teammate Joakim Noah, who is currently playing in the playoffs despite suffering from the crippling pain caused by plantar fasciitis) as to why they have begun to turn on the once-invincible Rose. The longer Rose continues to leave his status in limbo and feed the notion of him being “soft”, it seems that the more we see articles questioning him on, SB Nation, and other respected sites.

Now, Adidas is in an awkward position. They invested $200 million dollars into Rose for him to be their savior, however if Rose is moved into the “Dwight Howard hero-to-villain” suite in the public’s eyes, then they may have made a huge, critical mistake. Nike can afford to represent Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James (who both have mixed public perceptions) because they are the undisputed leader in the industry and have that luxury. Adidas, on the other hand, needs this deal to pay off for them to get an adequate return on investment.

Rose’s “D-Rose 3.5” shoe line is currently one of the top-seller at many shoe retailers around the country including Foot Locker and Finish Line so its performance in the subsequent months will be very telling in the story of D-Rose and Adidas.

So the million-dollar question is this: Is Rose just facing a valley in a lifetime of peaks or has he lived long enough to see himself become the villain?


Aaron J. Coleman is currently a sport management major at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA minoring in Communication (with a focus in Public Relations). He was born and raised in Upper Marlboro, MD, a suburb outside of Washington, DC. He is currently a supervisor for Drexel’s Intramural Sports program and also an intern for the Arena Football Legaue’s Philadelphia Soul franchise. He covers the Chicago Bulls, New York Yankees, and Washington Redskins (his favorite squads along with the Washington Capitals and Drexel Dragons) for Follow Aaron on Twitter @shutupCole

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