Few Jordan Brand athletes can claim the same longevity with the brand and ridiculous collection of exclusive sneakers as Ray Allen, who was among the first group of athletes signed to its roster. His signing almost didn't happen though—according to Allen himself, he nearly inked a deal with Fila.
In a conversation with Sports Illustrated, the retired three-point specialist says that he was urged to sign with Fila.
"My agent at the time tried to make me accept a check for a $100,000 but they were telling me they were going to give me a signature shoe," he says. "It was either Fila or Nike at the time and [Fila] told [me I'd get] the signature shoe for five years years but the first two I had to lead the team in scoring, rebounding, steals or assists."
Allen goes on to say that Nike wasn't giving him a signature shoe, but offered him a spot on Jordan Brand. He also came to the realization that he'd rather be wearing Nikes were his career in the NBA to really take off.
There's evidence suggesting that Allen's agent told Fila that he was headed there at one point. A 1996 piece from the Baltimore Sun reports that the brand told analysts on an earnings call that it had already signed Allen to a five-year deal. In that article, his agent, Lee Fentress, claimed that excitement around the brand helped sway Allen's decision. Fentress was the head of an agency also representing Grant Hill and Jerry Stackhouse, who signed with Fila and went on to become its most important signature athletes in the league.
In the Sports Illustrated piece, Allen has no regrets about his endorsement decision, saying, "to represent the Brand for the last 20 years is an incredible honor."