‘He Told Us He Would Shock the World’: Zion Williamson Signs Shoe Deal With Nike for Jordan Brand

July 23, 2019, 6:22 PM UTC
Zion Williamson in a Jordan Brand pullover
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - April 08: Zion Williamson #12 Spartanburg Day School, Spartanburg, SC during the Jordan Brand Classic, National Boys Teams All-Star basketball game. The Jordan Brand Classic showcases the best male and female high school basketball players who compete in the exhibition games at the The Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York on April 08, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
Tim Clayton—Corbis/Getty Images

Zion Williamson, the most heralded NBA rookie since LeBron James, signed a shoe deal with Nike Inc.’s Jordan brand.

The top pick in last month’s pro basketball draft will instantly become one of Nike’s most important endorsers, joining a list that includes Michael Jordan, James and Cristiano Ronaldo. Terms of the agreement weren’t released, but it likely ranks among the most expensive shoe deals ever given to an NBA rookie.

Nike signed Williamson to the agreement four months after the Duke University player hurt his knee when his Nike sneakers fell apart in a game. The incident briefly sent Nike shares down 1.7%, and the Beaverton, Oregon-based company sent a group of employees to China to help build a stronger shoe.

“He told us he would ‘shock the world,’ and asked us to believe him,” Jordan said in a statement Tuesday. “We do.”

Landing the 6-foot-7, 285-pound Williamson, who’ll play for the New Orleans Pelicans next season, is a big win for Nike.

The company is seeing renewed competition in basketball from a number of new entrants. New Balance in the past year signed both highly touted prospect Darius Bazley and two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. Puma is concentrating more on basketball, as are popular 1990s brands Fila and And1.

“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,” Williamson, 19, said in the statement.

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