The first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and highly anticipated young basketball star Zion Williamson has joined what some call the pinnacle in footwear deals, Nike’s JORDAN Brand. However, it wasn’t an easy sell for the footwear giant like you think it would be. During the summer league action Williamson twice showed up to sit on the bench wearing sneakers from Puma, which aggressively relaunched its basketball program last summer. TMZ reported last week that the company and its private jet were a “major contender” to sign the number-one overall pick two years running.
Williamson is one of only 50-plus handpicked athletes by the JORDAN Brand, and will be joining names such as Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul as well as others across multiple sports. Williamson is one of a summer full of new talent joining Jordan Brand, including Jayson Tatum, Rui Hachimura, WNBA players Asia Durr and Kia Nurse and NFL rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
So how much did the young star make from his deal? Sonny Vaccaro, the former Nike executive who helped broker the Michael Jordan-Nike deal back in the ‘80s, told TMZ it was close to a done deal, and guessed the New Orleans Pelican might get a “nine-figure deal right out of the gate”.
(Jordan did not release terms of the contract and a representative declined to comment.)
Zion said “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 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.”