Nike, Cade Cunningham Agree to Multiyear Endorsement Contract Ahead of 2021 NBA Draft

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJuly 27, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 21: Cade Cunningham #2 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys reacts against the Oregon State Beavers during the second half in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Division I Mens Basketball Tournament held at Hinkle Fieldhouse on March 21, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Presumptive No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham has agreed to a multiyear endorsement contract with Nike ahead of the 2021 NBA draft, per ESPN's Nick DePaula.

Cunningham told DePaula: "More than anything, they show that athletes are more than just athletes. They really put the right message out for people to see. That was important to me. ... I felt like it was a perfect match for me.

He added: "We all can tell a Nike commercial as soon as they come on. Those things matter to me, and I want to be associated with a brand like that."

DePaula reported Cunningham will have the largest shoe deal of any player in his class.

Cunningham tried out shoes from Puma, Li-Ning, Converse and Adidas before deciding on Nike. Assuming he is taken with the No. 1 overall pick, he will be the first top selection to sign with Nike since Markelle Fultz in 2017. Zion Williamson, the 2019 top pick, signed to Jordan Brand, a subsidiary of Nike.

From 2011 to 2017, Nike signed all but one No. 1 overall pick (Andrew Wiggins, who went with Adidas in 2014).

More than two-thirds of NBA players wear Nike products. The company is also the official jersey outfitter of the NBA.

Cunningham told DePaula he is focused on understanding the business behind the game of basketball now that he's headed for the NBA:

"I definitely have been putting thought into it. I'm not playing basketball just for fun anymore. It's a business now, and that's the blessing of it. I'm happy that I've gotten to get to this point to where I can make money doing what I'm doing. Marketing myself, I want to be fully authentic with who I am. I don't want to take any marketing deals that don't match who I am."

The Detroit Pistons are expected to select Cunningham with the No. 1 pick. He has been viewed as the favorite for the top spot since leaving high school and was an instant superstar during his one season at Oklahoma State.


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