In 1997, Tracy McGrady was among the top NBA recruits entering the draft. Coming straight out of North Carolina’s Mt. Zion Christian Academy, the 18-year-old athlete initially dreamed of playing college basketball before entering the draft. However, a massive endorsement deal changed the game.
Before his plans to join the University of Kentucky team, McGrady was offered a six-year, $12 million shoe endorsement deal with adidas.
“Tracy McGrady has never played a college game, but the 18-year-old basketball star is making a $12 million leap into the big leagues. The money is coming, not from an NBA team, but from Adidas,” AP News reported on June 19, 1997.
Over two decades later, the agreement between McGrady and the popular shoe company could end.
Time Is Up
During the 2022 Hashtag Sports Conference — hosted in Las Vegas, NV — McGrady sat on the stage and told the crowd during a conversation that his relationship with adidas was “rocky.”
“I’ve been with Adidas for 25 years. I think we’re coming to an end,” McGrady told the crowd.
McGrady noted that the treatment he’s received over his contractual period has not been ideal and that the time to walk away is now.
“The treatment that I’ve gotten from them over the last ten years – it is what it is. I deserve better,” he said. “Tweet it. Put it on Instagram. Whatever you want to do, I don’t give a sh-t.”
McGrady’s original deal was offered to him prior to being drafted as the No. 9 pick by the Toronto Raptors. Initially slated for $12 million over six years, McGrady’s shoe deal was extended several times throughout his career. McGrady and adidas cooked up six signature shoe designs during the early 2000s. Even after he retired in 2013, three of his signature shoes remained popular, specifically in Asia, Boardroom reports.
If McGrady proceeds with his exit from the shoe company, that would be two of its most high-profile figures who will no longer be associated with the brand. The late Kobe Bryant got out of his Adidas contract Summer of 2002.
Adidas has yet to respond to McGrady’s grievances regarding his contract.