There is no limit to brand wars, especially when it comes to brands that boast NBA talent. Nike, Jordan, Adidas, and others come to mind.

So when Nike Basketball released the official roster photo for the USA Basketball men’s national team, one thing stood out in the photo. Harrison Barnes, Kyle Lowry, and Klay Thompson were placed in the back of the picture, where their sneakers are much less noticeable.

The Vertical’s Nick DePaula also points out that this isn’t the first time it’s been done. In 2008, Dwight Howard’s Adidas sneakers were blocked out by the foot of Coach K:

DePaula points out in an article with The Vertical that this isn’t the first time a branding agenda has been apparent:

Since NBA stars with massive athletic brand endorsement deals were allowed to compete in the Olympics in 1992, there have been a number of examples of branding agendas at work. Perhaps the most memorable logo maneuvering was in Barcelona, when Nike’s global icon, Michael Jordan, utilized the American flag to conceal the Reebok logos stitched onto Team USA’s official medal-stand warmup suit.

“Everyone agreed we would not deface the Reebok [logo] on the award uniform,” Jordan told media members after the ceremony. “The American flag cannot deface anything. That’s what we stand for. The American dream is standing up for what you believe in. I believed in it, and I stood up for it. If I offended anyone, that’s too bad.”

It’s not a great look for Nike, but you could understand why they’d do what they did. If they have have control over the team photo among other things, it’s going to be easier for them to manipulate things to further their own agenda. Maybe in the future we’ll see some middle ground on that type of stuff. For now, it’s Nike’s monopoly.

[The Vertical]

About Harry Lyles Jr.

Harry Lyles Jr. is an Atlanta-based writer, and a Georgia State University graduate.