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Liberty's Sabrina Ionescu Agrees to Multi-Year Endorsement Contract with Nike

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistApril 17, 2020

Oregon's Sabrina Ionescu (20) reacts after her team scored against Stanford during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the final of the Pac-12 women's tournament Sunday, March 8, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
John Locher/Associated Press

Fresh off being the No. 1 pick in the 2020 WNBA draft by the New York Liberty, Sabrina Ionescu is now one of the key faces of Nike Basketball. 

On Friday, Ionescu signed an exclusive multi-year marketing deal with Nike: 

In an April 6 interview with the Oregonian's John Canzano on the podcast The Bald Faced Truth, the former University of Oregon star said she was deciding among offers from Nike, Under Armour and Puma:

"I've been going between Nike, Under Armour and Puma. Obviously I have a good relationship with Steph (Curry) and so hearing what he has to offer and the opportunity I could take that way. And having a relationship with Phil Knight and being a Nike athlete for the last 10 years of my basketball career is also appealing. I'm just trying to weigh out all my options and seeing what the best opportunity for me will be."

Curry was apparently making a significant push to get Ionescu to join the Under Armour family. She told the Runnin' Plays podcast (via NBC Sports Bay Area's Logan Murdock) that the two-time NBA MVP was texting her "almost every day" to sign with the company.

Ionescu noted she was hoping to secure a signature shoe from whichever brand she signed with:

"I think before this all happened, I never thought about it because I didn't think it was even a possibility because women don't usually have signature shoes. And then I think listening to a lot of these companies and the goals and visions that they had to have a signature shoe down the line, I was like, 'Oh, actually that would be pretty cool.'

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"And I feel like a lot of individuals would want to buy that shoe and wear that shoe. And so I think now taking kind of two weeks, fast forward what I had thought before starting this, I do think a shoe would be really cool or like a clothing line or something, which would be awesome, and would be kind of beyond belief just because I'm so used to buying other people's shoes, and kind of looking up to them. And so kind of having that reciprocated would be awesome."

Per Sports Illustrated's Kellen Becoats, no current WNBA player has a signature shoe.

Ionescu has the potential to change that with her new Nike deal. She has arguably been the face of college basketball for the past three seasons.

She turned the Ducks into a national powerhouse with a 97-12 record since 2017-18 and led the program to its first Final Four appearance last year.

Playing in New York will certainly benefit Ionescu's marketing potential, but she has already proved capable of transcending market size by making herself a superstar in the sports world at Oregon.

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