Lantern file photo
LeBron James took his basketball talents out of Ohio a little more than a year ago and now his logo will also be branching out to places besides the Buckeye state.
The University of Miami (Fla.) and University of Kentucky men’s basketball teams recently agreed to a sponsorship deal that will supply the teams with James’ Nike-branded gear for the upcoming season, according to a report by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
The report also stated that James reached a deal with Ohio State, but the OSU team has been involved with James’ brand for the past several years, OSU spokesman Dan Wallenberg said in an email to The Lantern.
“We have been with the LeBron James Nike line since the end of the 2006-07 season,” Wallenberg said in the email. “We (now) have Nike logo on our uniforms only. We had LeBron James’ logo on our uniforms only for the 2007-08 season.”
Wallenberg added that although OSU is being linked to the recent sponsorship deals, the Buckeyes’ current deal with Nike remains unchanged.
“Nothing has changed with our uniforms for next year,” the email said. “We are merely being mentioned of late with other schools who have gone to Nike/LeBron James gear. Nothing new has happened with us.”
Many Buckeye players have worn James-model Nike shoes in recent seasons and the team has also sported warm-up attire which featured the LBJ23 insignia (the logo has since been redesigned to incorporate the No. 6 instead of No. 23 after James switched his jersey number when he joined the Miami Heat).
Although James did not attend college, the Akron native does have a connection with all three sponsored teams.
An open supporter of the Buckeyes, James has stated in the past that he would have attended OSU if he did not bypass college to enter the NBA. Last weekend, OSU sophomore Jared Sullinger attended the LeBron James Skills Academy for high school and college players at James A. Rhodes Arena in Akron. Former OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s friendship with James has been well-documented.
Since joining the Heat, James has often scrimmaged with Hurricane players. He also has a close relationship with Kentucky coach John Calipari.
Basketball legend Michael Jordan, whose brand is also affiliated with Nike, has similar sponsorship deals with three college teams: North Carolina (Jordan’s alma mater), California and Cincinnati.