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Source says Nike, Rodman split may be near

January 10, 1997

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ Chicago Bulls star Dennis Rodman and Nike Inc. are talking about renewing his lucrative endorsement deal but the athletic shoe giant has little interest in extending it, The Oregonian reported today.

The newspaper quoted an unidentified Nike official as saying the Beaverton-based company and Rodman are far apart in their negotiations, although a deal still could come together.

Rodman reportedly has a three-year contract paying $500,000 per year for endorsing Nike products.

Nike spokesman McClain Ramsey would say only that Rodman’s contract had expired and the two sides were ``in the process of renegotiating.″

``As of now, he’s still wearing the shoes,″ Ramsey said.

The Oregonian reported Rodman was talking about alternative deals with athletic shoe manufacturer Converse and eyewear maker Oakley Inc.

Rodman has built an image around his multicolored hairdos, painted fingernails and cross-dressing habits. He posed nude on a motorcycle for the cover of his autobiography, in which he described a fling with pop singer and actress Madonna.

``People love me because I’m what you’d all like to be if you could let it all hang out,″ he said in an interview last month.

But the Nike source said Rodman had ``crossed the thin line″ beyond acceptable notoriety. Rodman no longer sets the kind of example the company is comfortable with, the official said.

Industry analyst Shelly Young said getting rid of Rodman is a step in the right direction for Nike. As the dominant company in the sports business, Nike can afford to be more choosy about who represents it, Young said.

But some marketers see Rodman’s behavior as ``calculated outrageousness″ and therefore safe. ``He was perfect for us in terms of the attitude we wanted,″ said Arthur Quinby of Mendelsohn Zien, the Los Angeles agency that cast Rodman in a Carl’s Jr. ad.

Nike has used Rodman in relatively few ads, casting him in a shared ad with shoe retailer Foot Action and in an ad series known as ``Barbershop″ with other NBA players.

``We hear he’s as unhappy with Nike as the company is with him,″ said Howard Smith, a basketball marketing official with Nike rival Reebok International Ltd.

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