And now is the season when shoe companies will try to woo the top players in the NBA draft. Guys going near the top of the lottery such as Markelle Fultz, Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum, and Malik Monk will have both Nike and Adidas people talking to them, offering them entry-level deals (even the biggest rookie shoe deals now don’t often cross the $2 million line ).
That includes Lonzo Ball. The guy with the father who said his three sons deserve a $1 billion contract combined. (Lonzo is coming out of UCLA and going pro this season, his brothers are still in high school but committed to UCLA.)
Nike co-founder and power broker Phil Knight was in Glendale, Ariz., for the Final Four and was asked by the USA Today about trying to sign Ball to a shoe deal. But about that $1 billion deal…
If he can get it, get it,’’ Knight said.
But apparently the Balls won’t be getting that $1 billion from Nike.
“It’s a little steep,’’ said Knight, and of Lonzo Ball he added, ““He’s an awfully great player. Yeah, we have an interest.”
Saying Nike has interest in Ball is on the news level of saying Warner Bros. is banking on Wonder Woman this summer — it’s not exactly revelatory. How much Nike might pay compared to Adidas, and all sorts of other deals made in proverbial smoky rooms, will determine where Ball signs.
But like everyone entering the league, if Ball wants to get a signature shoe and get paid, he’s going to have to earn it on the court.