Just started reading “Boys Among Men” by Jonathan Abrams on a recommendation from an acquaintance in Detroit. Great so far…the book starts with Moses Malone and works its way through all aspects of the prep-to-pro period in the 90s and 00s, starting with Kevin Garnett.
Anyway, I’m up through Tracy McGrady and what’s so striking is how EVEN the shoe companies seemed to be during that period, in large part due to Sonny Vaccarro working for Adidas and getting in early with guys like Kobe, McGrady, etc. I don’t know what the exact split was in those days among elite players but I’m guessing it was something close to 60/40 or so. Nike had its July camp and Adidas inherited the ABCD camp started by Sonny, and as I recall the talent was well distributed between the two. MSU has landed a ton of players from the Mustangs AAU program, which is Adidas affiliated…Jason Richardson, Kelvin Torbert, Paul Davis, Drew Neitzel and a bunch of others.
Even as recently as a few years ago, Adidas teams had a lot of talent. Up until this year the Mustangs were holding their own with Michigan kids…Appling, Denzel, Derrick Walton, and the bulk of the best 2017 players were with them last season. I remember seeing Indy Elite about 5-6 years ago when they had guys like Cody Zeller, Kenny Kaminski, Yogi Ferrell, etc. in their program. Those days are gone.
I just took a quick look at Rivals Top 20 and if my math is right, 17 of those kids are playing for Nike teams. UA has 2 and Adidas a whopping 1. Stop the fight, because it’s over. The Swoosh won.
I don’t have any particular gripe with Nike and I don’t think any of the shoe companies are worth rooting for (or against) but I do worry when any one entity gets a virtual lock on an element of the game. It can’t be healthy for anybody.