After a freshman season that sent the nation into a frenzy, Zion Williamson is finally hitting the open market and ready to command a massive shoe deal. Despite an Elite Eight loss to Michigan State, Duke’s Zion Williamson remains, by far, the top prospect heading into the 2019 NBA Draft.
Being a once in a generation type talent, Williamson looks to command one of, if not the largest rookie shoe deal in NBA history. LeBron James still holds the record for the biggest rookie shoe deal in NBA history with a staggering $87 million guaranteed from Nike for the high school phenom.
Given the fact that James inked his rookie shoe deal with Nike over 15 years ago, it wouldn’t be unrealistic to expect Williamson to command a much higher price. In fact, legendary Nike Exec Sonny Vaccaro (aka the guy who signed Michael Jordan) said, “In my lifetime, I think it’s going to be the biggest bidding war ever done.”
Zion Williamson Shoe Deal: Seven Companies Courting Superstar
While initially, ESPN’s Nick DePaulo reported that six different companies were courting the Duke star, he announced today on ESPN’s ‘The Jump’ that a seventh company had joined the arms race. Already rumored to be in the running were Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, New Balance, Puma, and Anta. However, DePaulo announced that another (unnamed) Chinese shoe company had likely entered the mix.
More importantly, DePaulo claimed to have sources saying that one of the companies was willing to go as high as $10 million per year for the services of the Duke star. With an average annual value in that ballpark, breaking past LeBron’s legendary $87 million guaranteed rookie deal actually becomes a very reasonable possibility.
While most players typically get something around four to five years on their rookie shoe deal, elite players can expect something more along the lines of a seven-year deal (i.e. Kevin Durant & LeBron James).
Zion Williamson Shoe Video: Duke Star Busts Nike PG 2.5
Having around 70% of NBA players wearing their shoes, Nike has established a dominance over the sneaker game in the NBA. As can be expected, Nike is putting the full-court press on the Duke star in order to bring him onto the Nike Team.
However, Zion Williamson experienced his most notorious moment while wearing Nikes when he infamously blew out a pair of Nike PG 2.5’s in a nationally televised game against arch-rival UNC.
While Duke is a Nike school and Nike would actually help design custom shoes for Williamson, the incident leaves a slight blemish on the resume of the basketball world’s biggest shoe company and keeps the door open for debate as far as where Zion will land.