The shoe sweepstakes are over.
In a deal that shocked many, Zion Williamson signed a reported seven-year, $75 million deal with Jordan Brand.
Jordan Brand, and by association, Nike, are clear winners in this. Zion is the hottest and most marketable NBA player since LeBron James, and it seems the Jumpman got him at a discount.
The money that high-flying, highlight reel-generating Zion will generate for Jordan Brand and Nike is going to be crazy, and to sign him for only $75 million? Bargain.
Apparently, Zion turned down bigger offers in order to sign with the iconic brand shaped by the GOAT, Michael Jordan.
Sources say Zion Williamson had offers bigger than the Jordan deal. Left money on the table for his dream of wearing the logo of his favorite player.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) July 23, 2019
Brands like Under Armour and Puma have made big strides in recent years regarding the NBA’s shoe game. Under Armour has a deal with Steph Curry, who is a flashy, marketable superstar that consistently finishes in the top three in jersey sales.
Puma signed 2018 number one and two overall picks DeAndre Ayton and Marvin Bagley in an investment banking on these players only getting better and receiving more attention. Also, Adidas endorses James Harden, a consensus top-10 player in the league. Nike was by no means the only brand in the running to signing Zion.
In Feb., Zion’s Duke faced off against UNC in college basketball’s biggest rivalry and one of the most highly anticipated games of the year. Just a minute into the game, Zion’s Nike shoe tore, he fell to the floor injured and was ruled out for the rest of the game.
Suddenly people wondered if Nike was a lock to sign Zion and if the big man on the path to the first overall pick would have enough trust in the iconic brand.
So, Zion went a slightly different route. By choosing Jordan Brand for less money than elsewhere, Zion proved how powerful Jordan Brand still is. Think about this: Zion wasn’t even born until 2000 when Jordan had already retired twice and played his last game for the Chicago Bulls.
Still, he chose to join Jordan Brand and follow in the footsteps of the best basketball player who ever lived. Zion told ESPN:
“Since I was a kid, I dreamed of making it to the league and having the type of impact on the game Michael Jordan had and continues to have today… He was one of those special athletes I looked up to, and I really can’t express how happy and excited I am for this journey.”
Even after the crying Jordan face memes and the Hornets being an abysmally-managed franchise for years now under Jordan’s ownership, Jordan still commands an immense amount of respect around the league and among young players.
Zion’s next step now should be to hire a personal trainer, chef, and dietician, because he needs to be at a stable weight to avoid serious injuries. His big frame and absurd jumping ability are part of what makes him an athletic freak, but time and time again in the NBA we have seen knee and ankle issues from super-athletic heavy players.
If Zion can shed a few pounds, but still keep the strength that makes him so special, he is set to have an ultra-successful and long career.
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Part of the massive fortunes NBA superstars make is due to the extremely lucrative shoe deals they sign. There is no greater indicator of this than LeBron James’s $1 billion lifetime deal with Nike.
Set aside the fact that the guaranteed money NBA players make is astronomical, but the superstars (or young potential stars) get extra shoe money as well. It is no question why NFL players get jealous.
But no one questions whether or not Zion deserves this money. He is a stadium giant, and if he keeps his body in shape (please New Orleans, don’t feed him too much), he is primed to make Jordan Brand and Nike double, triple, or even quadruple their investment.
This is only the beginning for Zion and his checks, and for the jolly, conscientious man we have seen him be, he deserves nothing less.