NBA: LeBron's Nike deal could be worth more than US$1b, hints agent

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James dunks in the second quarter against the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of the Eastern conference finals, May 17, 2016.
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James dunks in the second quarter against the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of the Eastern conference finals, May 17, 2016.PHOTO: USA TODAY SPORTS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James could make more than US$1 billion (S$1.38 billion) in his lifetime endorsement deal with sportswear manufacturer Nike, his business manager indicated in an interview with GQ magazine.

Maverick Carter, agent for the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player, was asked on Tuesday about the assertion by rap singer Kanye West that James' Nike deal was worth US$1 billion.

Carter smiled at the notion and pointed a finger to the sky as he replied.

"It's a fantastic deal. Nike feels great about the deal. That's the most important thing," he said.

"As great as I feel, as great as LeBron feels, Nike feels fantastic about it. It's the largest deal in the history of the company. Their hope is he makes even more. And our hope is that, too, obviously."

James and Nike struck the lifetime deal last December, when it was reported to be the largest guarantee to a single athlete in the US-based sports apparel company's history.

When he entered the National Basketball Association, he signed a seven-year contract worth US$93 million with Nike. In 2010, he inked another Nike deal.

The 31-year-old scored 24 points on Tuesday, as Cleveland ripped Toronto 115-84 to open their best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals series, improving to 9-0 in this year's play-offs by dominating inside when the Raptors pressured the Cavaliers' outside shooting.

"They wanted us to be in the paint. We tried to take advantage of that," James said. "We're not a jump-shooting team. We're a balanced team. We're able to do whatever the game dictates and we're able to adjust to that."

James, who set a playoff-career best by hitting 11 of 13 shots from the floor (84.6 per cent), is trying to complete his quest to bring his home-region club their first NBA crown.

The former Akron, Ohio, prep star entered the NBA with the Cavaliers, but in 2010 left for the Miami Heat before returning to Cleveland in 2014.