Zion got paid.
Zion got paid.

Nike’s absurd splurge breaks records

NIKE is going all in on NBA No.1 draft pick Zion Williamson after locking down a sneaker endorsement deal with the New Orleans Pelicans star.

It is an extraordinary win on two fronts for the apparel giant after the company in February had $2 billion wiped from its bottom line when Williamson shredded his Duke Nike sneaker and injured his knee.

According to reports, Williamson also signed with Nike for less money than he was offered by a rival brand - giving up $US10 million.

Reports on Wednesday claimed Williamson's deal with Nike's Jordan brand is worth $107 million (US$75m) over four years.

It is the biggest rookie shoe endorsement deal signed in the NBA since LeBron James signed with Nike in 2003 for $US87 million.

It puts Williamson above Kevin Durant's seven-year, $US60 million deal when he was picked up by the SuperSonics in 2007.

It also dwarfs Ben Simmons' rookie shoe endorsement deal with Nike where the Aussie signed a five-year deal reportedly worth a guaranteed $US20 million with performance clauses pushing the deal towards a total $US40 million.

It ends what had been forecast earlier this year to be the biggest endorsement deal bidding war of this generation of athletes.

The man who first signed NBA GOAT Michael Jordan to Nike, company executive Exec Sonny Vaccaro, declared in April Williamson's rookie shoe deal would be the biggest bidding war of his lifetime.

He said after the 2019 NBA Draft that Williamson's shoe deal would have been worth $US100 million if he'd been selected by a big-market franchise like the New York Knocks or the Los Angeles Lakers.

While it didn't get to those heights, it was reported that up to seven companies were all chasing Williamson's signature.

Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, New Balance, Puma and Anta and a Chinese company were all linked with offers to Williamson.

The fear of a rival snatching him and using the imagery of his blown out shoe at Duke reportedly forced Nike to make its richest shoe offer in 16 years.

The company's campaign was also boosted by the extraordinary lengths it was able to go to to develop a custom-made shoe for Williamson at Duke following his earlier blow out.

This image of Zion’s shattered shoe wiped $2 billion off Nike’s share value.
This image of Zion’s shattered shoe wiped $2 billion off Nike’s share value.

In the end it was Williamson's affinity for the Jordan brand and his weakness for the iconic basketballer himself that sealed the deal.

"I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the Jordan Brand family," said Williamson, who was chosen first overall in the June draft by the New Orleans Pelicans.

"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."

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Let’s Dance #JUMPMAN

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Jordan himself, a six-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls who now owns the Charlotte Hornets, lauded Williamson's "incredible determination, character and play."

"He's an essential part of the new talent that will help lead the brand into the future," Jordan said. "He told us he would 'shock the world,' and asked us to believe him. We do."

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