Zion Williamson made a name for himself on social media with his jaw-dropping dunks and physical skills on the basketball court. He was one of the top recruits in college basketball last season and had a phenomenal freshman season, helping Duke reach the Elite Eight.
He was the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and after landing with the New Orleans Pelicans, the last major hurdle was signing a sneaker deal. He signed a contract with Nike, which has become one of the richest ever for a rookie.
Today we will go over his deal and the other top rookie sneaker endorsement deals.
Vince Carter: Puma- 10-years, $50 million
Vince Carter was one of the most athletic players entering the 1999 NBA Draft, and it was very surprising to see him sign a 10-year deal with Puma. The contract didn’t last long, however, as Carter signed a shoe endorsement deal with Nike after his rookie season.
He has gone on to have a fantastic career spanning two decades and has one of the most memorable moments on a basketball court during the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Allen Iverson: Reebok- 10-years, $60 million
Coming out of Georgetown, Allen Iverson was one of the most exciting prospects to enter the league in 1996. His 10-year $60 million contract with Reebok was the most ever for a rookie at the time, and Iverson more than made up for it.
His ball-handling and ability to score from anywhere on the court, along with his size, made him one of the most popular players in the NBA. Iverson would go on to have a Hall-of-Fame career and averaged nearly 27 points and over six assists per game (with over 12 seasons with the 76ers).
Kevin Durant: Nike- 7-years, $60 million
Kevin Durant made the University of Texas relevant in basketball during his freshman season with the Longhorns. He averaged 26 points and 11 rebounds per game during his lone season and was the No. 2 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. It was no surprise that Nike snatched him up away from Adidas and Reebok, and Durant has won two NBA championships with Golden State in his career.
Zion Williamson: Jordan- 5-years, $75 million
How good can Zion Williamson be in the league? The Jordan Brand (with Nike as the parent company) hopes he can be one of the league’s top players. He put up excellent numbers at Duke and if he can maintain his weight, we could be looking at a once in a generation talent.
LeBron James: Nike- 7-years, $87 million + $10 million signing bonus
How far was Reebok from landing Nike? It has been documented that Reebok wasn’t willing to pony up the money Nike had to offer the “Phenom” LeBron James as he entered the NBA straight from high school. In total, Nike spent $97 million on one of the game’s greatest, and it has brought in the company hundreds of millions of dollars.
James now has a lifetime contract with the company, and his list of accolades includes championships, MVPs, and All-NBA appearances.
Will anyone get a contract that big?
Do you think there is anyone that will be able to land a contract of this magnitude? We don’t see any prospects in the upcoming class but fully expect the 2021 class to have a few that could reach historic levels. If you want more news from around the league, be sure to check out our NBA section.