This past summer, 30 invites sent out to players to audition for a spot on the 2010 USA Men’s Basketball Team; none of which included Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings. His theory? Brandon believes that Nike – one of Team USA’s main sponsors, has a semi-monopoly on the players chosen for the team. “I’m not saying it’s a Nike thing, but Nike is kind of running a lot of things right now. To have a guy like myself on the USA team that’s flashy and really outgoing, you don’t want Under Armour to get all that [publicity],” said Jennings.
Of the 30 plus training camp invitees, six wear Adidas (Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, Chauncey Billups, Eric Gordon, Brook Lopez and Kendrick Perkins). The only other non-Nike player an invitation was sent to was Reebok’s Al Jefferson, who didn’t participate this summer. That leaves more than 25 players on USA Basketball’s selection list that are represented by brands under the Nike umbrella. On the final roster of 12, only Rose, Billups and Gordon wore non-Nike kicks.
Some interesting observations of the team photo: Dwight Howard, an Adidas athlete and one of the most marketable personalities in the NBA, stands in the front of the picture, even though Chris Bosh is taller in appearance due to his hairstyle. However, curious positioning of Howard’s hand and the team’s basketball coach raised additional questions.
In the team photo below, Coach Mike Krzyzewski (also a Nike client) is seen seated in front of Howard. This is significant because the coach usually stands with the rest of the group in team photos. Also significant because Coach K’s foot is strategically placed in front of Howard’s, preventing a visual of the Three Stripes logo on his shoe. Additionally, Howard’s hand conveniently blocks out the Nike branding on his shorts. While the Swoosh is still slightly visible on his jersey, Dwight’s “block” breaks up a very well planned string of Nike branding seen lined up on the players shorts. Nike insists that the photo is purely a coincidence, but some people believe otherwise.