After months of deliberating, New Orleans Pelicans rookie and #1 overall NBA draft pick Zion Williamson signed a gargantuan multiyear shoe deal with Nike’s Jordan Brand.
Zion’s deal is worth a reported $75m over 7 years, which is Nike’s largest deal since it signed LeBron for $90m back in 2003 — months before the King exited high school.
OK, so at least they’re giving Zion a little more time to prove himself
Of course, Zion hasn’t played a lick of professional basketball yet, he towers over 6’7’’, and the game is known as the injury sport — with an average player career of only 4.5 years (if they’re lucky).
But the power forward’s lightning-quick career as a college phenom has preached volumes to his pro-potential (22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game), and, from a marketing perspective, that’s all that matters.
Zion is set to receive $10.7m annually over the lifetime of the deal — on top of the $9.8m the Pelicans are paying him to actually play next season.
A big bet on a big get
In February, the sports world nearly keeled over when Zion’s left shoe exploded out from under him within the first minutes of a game.
The star exited with a knee injury and left many to speculate, at the time, whether basketball’s brightest young talent would ever be able to fly again.
The shoe in question? It was Nike’s.
Now, he’s the face of the brand’s future
More than 67% of NBA players currently wear Nike basketball sneakers.
But, as the aging stars of today begin to cross over, the company’s plan is to start investing in energetic NBA up-and-comers — Zion being at the top of that youthful list.
And the comparisons to His Airness have already begun: “There is something special about Zion that reminds me of MJ when he was younger,” Jordan VP of brand affairs, Howard White, told ESPN.
The question is, can the 19-year-old live up to the hype?
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