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Last week, Timberwolves All-Star Anthony Edwards produced one of the most viral sports moments of the year, a one-handed slam dunk over Utah forward John Collins that was instantly titled the best dunk of the season.

Edwards himself called the dunk — which has since been viewed tens of millions of times online — the best of his career.

Clearly visible in videos and images of the high-flying moment are the coral-colored Adidas sneakers Edwards is wearing, his first signature shoe called AE 1, which became available in stores a few months ago.

For Adidas, "It would be hard for a room full of creatives to come up with a better idea for a poster than what that dunk was," said Pat Benson, who covers the sneaker industry for Sports Illustrated's FanNation. "That was just a dream come true for Adidas."

The AE 1 shoe, manufactured in assorted colors in addition to coral, is priced at $120. It's one of the most popular athletic sneakers on the market and is a top seller on and StockX, a popular online marketplace for sneakers.

Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards launched his signature Adidas shoe, AE 1, in December.
Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards launched his signature Adidas shoe, AE 1, in December.


"The shoe itself is futuristic and different, which is a breath of fresh air in the sneaker community," Benson said.

When it comes to basketball footwear, Germany-based Adidas has spent decades in the shadow of Nike, Benson said. Paired with Edwards' soaring popularity, however, Adidas is gaining ground.

In a financial report released earlier this month, Adidas CEO Bjørn Gulden called Edwards' shoe "a successful launch" and in November he said the basketball star's signature shoe line "gives us a more optimistic outlook for our basketball business."

Edwards' potential impact on Adidas is already being compared to the boost Michael Jordan gave to Nike, which until then, had not been associated with basketball.

"I don't think we've seen a better rollout of a signature sneaker perhaps since Michael Jordan took flight with Nike back in the 1980s," Benson said.

Face of a global brand

For the past decade, Adidas' basketball roster has included NBA stars James Harden and Damian Lillard, both of whom have signed significant deals with the company — for $200 million and $100 million, respectively. But neither possess the acrobatic abilities of Edwards, who some say has the potential to become the most recognizable player in the NBA.

In 2023, the Timberwolves signed Edwards to a five-year contract extension worth up to $260 million.

Adidas announced it would make a signature shoe for the 22-year-old in September.

"The launch of the AE 1 is without a doubt, one of the pinnacles of my career and life to date," Edwards said in a release from Adidas about his signature shoe. "Having the support of Adidas basketball, joining basketball legends who I've looked up to on their roster, is a dream come true. This is just the beginning."

Of the 450 players in the NBA, only 25 have a signature shoe, "and many across the industry feel Ant[hony Edwards] is one of the most promising and exciting endorsers in the space," said Nick DePaula, who covers the sneaker industry at Boardroom, a business of sports media company.

Edwards signed his endorsement deal with Adidas in 2020 when he was the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. A signature shoe deal can earn an athlete more than $3 million per year, DePaula said, with several players compensated up to $12 million if including royalties and incentive bonuses, he said.

Details of his current contract with Adidas have not been disclosed. Messages to Adidas and WME Sports, the agency that manages Edwards, were not returned.

Adidas invested significantly into the marketing campaign of Edwards' shoe, according to its 2023 financial report, though a specific amount wasn't mentioned.

The dunk against Utah is the "cherry on top" for the shoe brand, Benson said.

Growing its basketball category

Nike has owned the signature basketball sneaker category for decades, with basketball stars like LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and of course Michael Jordan, being the face of that business. Adidas is a close second, Benson said, and appetite for the Adidas is brand is growing.

"I think there might be some Nike fatigue out there," Benson said.

Nike had revenue of $51.2 billion in 2023 compared with $23.2 billion for Adidas, though Adidas reported a double-digit sales increase in the basketball category for the year. The company anticipates overall sales to grow at a mid-single-digit rate in 2024.

Gulden said Adidas is "on the right track" in 2024, which will be a rebound year for the company after losing millions of dollars in 2023 for discontinuing production of its Yeezy shoe, which was made in partnership with Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West.

In the wake of that decision, the announcement of Edwards' first shoe last fall was a bright spot. Adidas highlighted its new basketball collection, which includes Edwards, in its fiscal 2023 report, saying it "generated excitement and demand amongst consumers".

Nike has made billions of dollars from selling Jordan-branded sneakers. Experts say Adidas has the same opportunity with Edwards.

"Once a player gets a signature sneaker with the brand, more often than not, they finish their career with the brand," Benson said.

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (5) celebrates after making a 3-point shot during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets on March 19.
Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (5) celebrates after making a 3-point shot during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets on March 19.

Abbie Parr, Associated Press