NBA phenom Zion Williamson signs shoe deal with Nike’s Jordan Brand

Zion Williamson, the most hyped NBA rookie since LeBron James, has signed a multiyear endorsement deal with Jordan Brand. Williamson, 19, was chosen first overall in the 2019 NBA draft by the New Orleans Pelicans. The deal was first reported by ESPN’s Nick DePaula.

Because of his unique size and athleticism — he’s 6-foot-7, 285pounds — in college he was featured on highlight shows making monster dunks and defensive plays during his one year at Duke University. Even in high school he was known for his flashy play, and he accumulated millions of followers on Instagram as a high-schooler. Most NBA players don’t have that many followers.

While starring as a freshman at Duke, one of his Nike shoes infamously ripped open during a game, which also makes his decision to sign with Jordan Brand, a subsidiary of Nike NKE, +0.85%   , newsworthy. Nike’s stock went down 2% before the market opened the morning after the shoe incident.

Many pro basketball players signed to the Jordan Brand are veterans who have played for years. Russell Westbrook is 30, Carmelo Anthony is 35 and not currently on an NBA team, and Chris Paul is 34. So it seems smart for the brand, of which namesake NBA legend Michael Jordan owns a stake, to add a young player with All-Star potential. Jordan Brand also recently signed 21-year-old Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics to a multiyear shoe contract.

“I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the Jordan Brand family. Since I was a kid, I dreamed of making it to the league & having the type of impact on the game Michael Jordan had & continues to have today,” Williamson told ESPN. “He was one of those special athletes I looked up to.”

The rookie was actually born two years after Jordan, 56, played his final game with the Chicago Bulls.

The terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed. The last two No. 1 overall draft picks in the NBA, Deandre Ayton and Markelle Fultz, reportedly have shoe contracts with an annual value of less than $2 million. Williamson is probably in line to earn more than that.

The largest shoe endorsement deal for an active player is between Nike and LeBron James. That deal is a lifetime contract reportedly worth north of $1 billion.

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