Nike and FIBA, the International Basketball Federation, have forged a new multi-year partnership making Nike the official partner for product and marketing for FIBA’s senior men’s, women’s and youth flagship competitions worldwide, including the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Much of the imminent marketing opportunities revolve around the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 event, which will be played across eight cities in China, a country where Nike already has strong ties, having held a partnership with China’s Ministry of Education since 2012. Also, more recently, NBA superstar LeBron James and others from the Nike family trained with the U23 Chinese National Basketball team in Beijing.
Nike is now the official FIBA product partner spanning apparel, footwear and equipment. As such, it has official sponsorship rights for all men’s and women’s and youth editions of FIBA’s competitions, including FIBA Basketball World Cups (2019, 2023 and 2027) and Qualifiers, FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cups, FIBA Continental Cups and Qualifiers, FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments, FIBA U17 and U19 Basketball World Cups. Nike also becomes the title partner for FIBA’s World Rankings.
Though this partnership doesn’t involve the NBA, that league gets a lot of credit for being the most international of all U.S. pro sports leagues, and Nike played a major role in helping to broaden the international appeal of the NBA and basketball in general. Let’s not forget it was Nike that brought China’s Yao Ming, now an NBA Hall of Famer, to the global stage by introducing him to international competitions outside of China (although the brand giant famously didn’t make much use of the Chinese giant after he got to the NBA).
FIBA isn't focused only on China, but it sounds like that's where a lot of the upcoming marketing opportunity lies, and it is perhaps what most attracted Nike as it continues to engage in a heated competitive battle with international brands like Adidas, Under Armour and others. Even while Nike has faced this mounting competition, the Chinese market has remained a major bright spot for the company.
It's worth noting that another sportswear company, Champion, was listed as FIBA's official apparel sponsor at least through last year. It is not completely clear that Nike specifically replaced Champion after that partnership concluded, but it sounds a lot like Nike has some of the FIBA rights that Champion once held, along with a lot more.
One other angle of interest is the timing. We noted that Nike played a major role in broadening basketball's international appeal, but the U.S.-based brand's full court press with FIBA comes at a time of turmoil regarding our country's role in international affairs. Relative to basketball, the NBA is concerned about the effects of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies on the growing throngs of international players it has worked so hard to recruit. One sportswear and shoe brand may not be able to do much to ease these tensions, but if Nike can transcend them, that will be something to cheer about.