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

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJuly 27, 2021

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.

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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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