Zion Williamson’s shoe deal with Jordan Brand that he signed last month is worth a reported $75 million over five years — the richest annual rookie shoe deal in NBA history — but it could have been an even greater amount.
That is, had the New Orleans Pelicans young phenom passed on the prestige of the check mark for lesser-known brands that were offering more than $15 million per year.
In an ESPN article detailing the battle between shoe companies to sign Williamson, the Chinese company Li-Ning offered $19 million a year. Puma came at Zion with a $15 million offer with a potential $3 million a year in bonuses. Anta also pushed a $15 million per year deal.
Ultimately, Williamson chose Nike over the potential to make more money. The company pitched him on the resources it could provide with its technologies and resources. He could soon have a signature shoe that might be revealed as soon as All-Star Weekend, according to ESPN.
The power of the check mark
In choosing Jordan Brand, Williamson also spurned Nike competitor Adidas, which apparently never even pitched to Williamson’s family despite organizing a loose “Zion Committee.”
He also drove home the power of the brand. While there are stars who have signed with lesser-known brands — DeAndre Ayton with Puma, Klay Thompson with Anta, Dwyane Wade with Li-Ning — Nike is still Nike. And Jordan is still Jordan.
Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul are the only other Jordan Brand athletes to have signature shoes despite 67 percent of the league wearing Nike-branded shoes, according to ESPN. With Williamson now in the picture, it will be boost not only to the rookie sensation, but also to the check mark.
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