Basketball

Carter says he's not in step with Nike

Vince Carter says the shoe doesn't fit. The Toronto Raptors star has denied a Internet report claiming he has inked a lucrative endorsement contract with Nike.

"There's no deal. Everybody thinks they know everything that's going on with me. I'm tired of it, really," Carter said at the U.S. Olympic basketball team training camp.

The story on HoopsTV.com, a basketball and entertainment web site, reports the contract to be worth $30 million US.

Signing Carter, arguably the most exciting NBA player since Michael Jordan, would be a major score for Nike.

The sporting goods company re-wrote the book on sports marketing with its line of Jordan signature shoes, and has seen sliding sales since the Chicago Bulls' great retired from the game.

But on Tuesday, Carter called it all speculation.

"I just got out of a Puma suit, so how can I have a deal ready?" asked Carter rhetorically. "Everybody's jumping the gun."

Carter broke what was supposed to be a 10-year contract with Puma last season when he stopped wearing the shoes because they apparently hurt his feet.

Carter was also upset the company has failed to make him a signature shoe.

In July, a Boston arbitrator has ruled Carter must pay Puma $13.5 million US for breach of an endorsement contract.

Carter was further ordered to pay Puma's legal costs and prohibited from wearing the footwear or apparel of any of Puma's competitors for three years.

The HoopsTV.com report claims Nike will send $18 to $20 million US of the $30 million US to Puma to free Carter from any obligation to the Puma.

Puma lawyer Norman Oberstein would not comment on whether Carter had been given permission to talk with Oregon-based Nike. He denied that any deal had been reached between the parties.

"There isn't anything pending," the lawyer, Norman Oberstein, said. "We're just trying to work things out, and hopefully we will."

A spokesman for Nike declined comment on the story.

now