Jalen Suggs has landed a multiyear footwear and apparel deal with Adidas ahead of his anticipated selection early in the 2021 NBA draft on Thursday.
“I’m so excited to be with the brand,” the former Gonzaga star said. “I grew up inspired by D-Rose and Dame [Lillard] and want to follow in the steps of the young Adidas family coming up now like Trae [Young] and Don [Mitchell].”
After a breakout freshman season leading the Nike-sponsored Bulldogs to the national championship game of the NCAA tournament, Suggs became one of the most sought-after players entering shoe deal talks this spring.
The deal was negotiated by Wasserman, with Suggs and the agency holding a series of seven presentations — most in person, some virtual — in Los Angeles to begin the process. Adidas ultimately emerged as Suggs’ choice.
Along with outlining product plans for Green in both basketball and lifestyle footwear categories, the brand committed to funding a court refurbishment in his hometown of Saint Paul, Minnesota, and mapped out a pathway to a potential signature shoe down the road.
Adidas currently makes signature footwear for James Harden, Derrick Rose, Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell and Trae Young, with each product being released during the player’s second or third season with the company.
In addition to Suggs, Adidas has finalized endorsement deals with three other players expected to be selected near the top of the draft, signing explosive wing Jalen Green, versatile big man Evan Mobley and scoring guard Sharife Cooper.
“Each individual brings something unique to our team,” Eric Wise, global GM of basketball at Adidas, said in a statement. “From their talent and work ethic on the court, to a community-first mindset, values and openness to collaboration, we cannot wait to see where this week takes them.”
Behind the scenes, the brand recently merged its Originals and Basketball departments to work more closely together, as the culture of the sport has continued to blur the lines between performance and lifestyle in recent years.
Another factor in swaying players to land with the brand has been the recent appointment of designer Jerry Lorenzo, founder of high-fashion brand Fear of God, to help lead the creative and business strategy of Adidas Basketball. Lorenzo has launched coveted crossover basketball sneakers with Nike in the past, while also carving out his own sought-after footwear category at Fear of God, before signing a long-term partnership with Adidas in late 2020.
With new designers at the helm and a new hybrid marketing approach, along with existing signature athletes he has long looked up to, Suggs is looking ahead to a future with Adidas as he begins his NBA career.
“We will create culture together,” Suggs said. “And if you give me some time, I will pursue greatness like them.”