Zion Williams enters the NBA with a historic combination of hype and talent.
His jaw-dropping dunks at powerhouse Duke kept him in highlight reels. His incredible all-around production kept him atop draft boards.
The No. 1 overall pick also had leverage after an embarrassing incident of his shoe breaking in college. Nike doesn’t want to look like it harmed Williamson.
So, Jordan Brand came correct with a shoe deal.
The endorsement agreement aligning New Orleans Pelicans No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson and Jordan Brand extends five years and becomes the richest annual rookie shoe deal in NBA history, sources tell ESPN.
Before Williamson committed to Jordan Brand, several shoe competitors made offers on total deals that extended well into the nine-figure range, sources tell ESPN.
Williamson had other offers in excess of $10 million annually, according to reporting from ESPN shoe analyst Nick DePaula.
Darren Rovell of The Action Network:
One industry source said it is a 7-year, $75-million deal.
Zagoria reported seven years, Wojnarowski five years. Zagoria reported $75 million, Wojnarowski no specific number.
The largest rookie shoe deal was the $90 million over seven years LeBron James got.
If Williamson is getting $75 million over seven years, that would fall short of the record. But if that $75 million is paid over five years, Williamson ($15 million) would get more annually than LeBron did (nearly $13 million). Wojnarowski reported Williamson set the annual record, so that could make sense.
Maybe someone has a detail wrong. Maybe there are options and incentives that leave different ways to describe the deal.
Either way, Williamson will get paid.