Shoe-business in NBA
IF the shoe fits, make money out of it.
New Orleans Pelicans rookie phenom Zion Williamson, the No. 1 overall selection in last June’s NBA draft, signed a five-year, $75 million shoe endorsement contract with Nike’s Jordan Brand last July 23.
It is the richest rookie shoe deal in NBA history in terms of annual value as it comes down to $15 million per annum.
Prior to Duke University product Williamson’s partnership with the Jordan Brand, LeBron James (now with the Los Angeles Lakers) owned the most lucrative annual rookie sneaker deal in history — a seven-year, $90-million contract that is worth nearly $13 million per year after the prep-to-pro forward was drafted No. 1 overall in the 2003 NBA grab-bag by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Kevin Durant (now with the Brooklyn Nets following a three-year, two-championship stint with the Golden State Warriors)) secured a $9 million-a-year shoe endorsement contract with Nike in 2007 after being taken by the Seattle SuperSonics (the predecessors of the Oklahoma City Thunder) with the No. 2 pick in the 2007 NBA draft out of the University of Texas.
The only other active NBA players to secure a nine-figure sneaker agreement at any point in their careers are Golden State’s Stephen Curry (Under Armour), Houston Rockets’ James Harden (adidas) and Detroit Pistons’ Derrick Rose (adidas).
The list of Jordan Brand endorsers includes Houston’s Russell Westbrook and Oklahoma City’s Chris Paul, both of whom have signature sneakers. The two were traded for each other earlier this month.
Other NBA players aligned with the Jordan Brand include Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler and Detroit’s Blake Griffin and new recruits from this summer in Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum and 2019 Washington Wizards first-round draftee Rui Hachimura, a Japanese-born product of the Gonzaga University.
In 2015, in his second tour of duty with the Cavs, James inked a “lifetime” package with Nike that will likely pay him over $1 billion by the time he reaches age 64. James turns 35 on December 30.
More than 67 percent of the players in the NBA are wearing Nike-branded sneakers – Nike (62 percent) and its Nike subsidiary Jordan Brand (seven percent).
There’s a lot of money in the Chinese shoe industry.
In their bid to sign Williamson to a sneaker contract, Chinese company Li-Ning offered a $19 million-a-year deal and rival Anta proposed a $15 million annual pact.
Puma, which returned to the NBA shoe race only a year ago and was able to convince several top rookies to sign on the dotted line, also came up with a $15 million annual offer with another $3 million in incentives.
In the end, Williamson chose to hook up with Nike’s Jordan Brand.
Aside from the opportunity to earn more money in the future, the 6-foot-7 forward is also set to have his own signature Jordan Brand model as early as the NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago (where all-time great Michael Jordan played for the Bulls in the first 13 seasons of his legendary 15-year career) in February next year.
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Last August 1, Detroit center Andre Drummond withdrew his name from consideration for the defending gold-medalist USA team to the 2019 FIBA World Cup to be held in China from August 31-September 15.
Replacing Drummond in the USA Basketball training camp that will commence on August 5 (August 6, Manila time) in Las Vegas, Nevada is Miami center Bam Adebayo.
Along the way, there were two other players that withdrew before the start of camp – LA Clippers forward-center Montrezl Harrell and New York Knicks forward Julius Randle.
The USA Team will play a USA Select Team in an exhibition game August 9 (August 10) in Las Vegas before training camp resumes the following week in El Segundo, California. (New Orleans rookie Zion Williamson would have headed the Select Team but just like many other top-tier NBA players he eventually withdrew from participation.)
The final 12-man US roster to the FIBA World Cup will be known on August 17 (August 18, MT).
Coaching the American squad, which is gunning for an unprecedented third straight title, is debuting Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs.
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