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Nike just made NBA rookie Zion Williamson very rich

Words by Nathan Irvine

Jumpman unleashed

Zion Williamson has signed with Jordan Brand shoes. After months of speculation, the number one pick in the 2019 NBA draft, chose the Nike subsidiary and signed a 7-year, $75m sneaker deal.

Adidas, Puma and Under Armour fought a bloody battle for his signature, but the New Orleans Pelican's player opted to go with his hero, Michael Jordan's brand.

To put this into perspective, only a rookie LeBron James ($87m) commanded more cash ahead of his NBA debut. The sneaker deal even eclipses what Williamson will make in his first year with the Pelicans. In short, he'll rarely have to worry about money again.

Man down

It's a remarkable turnaround for Zion's relationship with Nike. During his February 20 game for college basketball team Duke, Williamson's Nike sneaker blew up after 30 seconds and left the star player injured.

For most, this would be enough to turn their back on a brand,  but Zion's love for the legendary Michael Jordan prevailed. He's even rumoured to have snubbed rivals that were prepared to go higher than $75m for his signature.

His idol, Jordan had this to say about the deal: “Zion’s incredible determination, character, and play are inspiring," he said. "He’s an essential part of the new talent that will help lead the brand into the future. He told us he would ‘shock the world,’ and asked us to believe him. We do."

More? See How Michael Jordan’s Nike deal changed sports marketing forever

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