FRANKFURT (AFP) - German sports giant Adidas on Thursday agreed a sponsorship deal with NBA superstar James Harden which was reported to be worth US$200 million in a major blow to heavyweight rivals Nike.
The contract for the 25-year-old Houston Rockets star, whose previous deal with Nike had expired, takes effect from October 1, ahead of the start of the National Basketball Association's 2015-16 season.
Adidas said it would not divulge the value of the long-term deal, understood to span 13 years, although American sports network ESPN claimed it was worth US$200m (S$280 million).
As part of his contract, Harden will help Adidas create and develop on- and off-court signature footwear and apparel collections, Adidas spokesman Michael Ehrlich said.
"His addition to the Adidas family is a game changer," Adidas Basketball general manager Chris Grancio said of Harden. "We have a lot of energy in basketball right now and he takes that momentum to a whole new level."
Adidas, the world's second-biggest sporting-goods maker, said in March it would not renew its partnership with the NBA after the 2016-17 season, when Nike takes over.
Harden, who signed an US$80 million contract extension with the Rockets in 2012, joins Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, John Wall of the Washington Wizards and Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers among Adidas's NBA sponsors.
Harden, 25, has been selected as an All-Star each of the past three seasons with the Rockets, averaging 26.3 points a game. He led the NBA in total points scored last season, when he averaged a career-high 27.4 points a game, second in the league to former Oklahoma City teammate Russell Westbrook.
Harden was selected as the NBA's Most Valuable Player by his peers in the inaugural Players' Awards last month. Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors won the official league MVP vote conducted by media members.
Last year, Adidas announced a 10-year link-up with English Premier League giants Manchester United worth a minimum £750 million (S$1.6 billion).
The group is also attempting to re-establish its foothold in North America in the face of competitors, Nike and Under Armour.