Woj: Zion Williamson's Jordan Brand Contract Richest in History for NBA Rookie

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 24, 2019

BROOKLYN, NY - JUNE 20: Zion Williamson is interviewed after being drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans during the 2019 NBA Draft on June 20, 2019 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Ryan McGilloway/NBAE via Getty Images)
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New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson ended months of speculation when he announced Tuesday he signed with Jordan Brand. In the process, he made history.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Williamson's endorsement deal is the largest annual shoe contract in NBA history. The New York Times' Adam Zagoria reported Tuesday the deal is worth $75 million over seven years.

The total fails to eclipse the agreement LeBron James inked with Nike in July 2003. Darren Rovell of ESPN reported at the time James signed for seven years and at least $90 million.

When the time came for him to make a decision, everyone expected Williamson to collect a king's ransom.

Sonny Vaccaro, who worked with Nike, Adidas and Reebok, told ESPN's Nick DePaula in April he thought the race to sign the former Duke star would be "the biggest bidding war ever done."

DePaula reported Tuesday "multiple competitor brands had offered the rookie sensation more than $10 million annually in their negotiations."

Williamson signed with a Nike-affiliated brand despite his well-publicized mishap that led to a right knee sprain in a Feb. 20 loss to North Carolina. He went to plant with his left foot when the Paul George signature Nike sneaker he was wearing broke apart:

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Zion's shoe: destroyed 😳 https://t.co/LqQ2te0Jay

The injury sent Nike's stock down for a brief time, and the company deployed a group of representatives to meet with Duke officials to alleviate any concerns.

Clearly Williamson was willing to let bygones be bygones. He joins Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul as the most notable NBA players under the Jordan Brand banner, while DePaula noted more than 67 percent of the league is connected to Nike.


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