Zion Williamson announced his signing with Jordan Brand a few weeks ago, marking the richest annual rookie shoe deal in NBA history, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. And still, he left some money on the table.
Since signing with Jordan Brand, new details of the Zion recruiting trail have surfaced, including how PUMA was prepared to give the Pelicans rookie a shoe deal that could be worth $18 million annually. As it turns out, Chinese sportswear brand Li-Ning had an even larger number on the table.
According to ESPN’s Nick DePaula, Li-Ning had offered Zion $19 million per year and they actually created seven different sneakers decked out in Duke‘s colors as part of their pitch. Check out the Zion x Li-Ning samples in the IG post embedded below.
Ultimately, Zion signed with Jordan Brand on five-year $75 million deal, which works out to $15M annually. LeBron James’ rookie sneaker deal with Nike was for seven-years, $90 million, or an annual payout of $12.4M.
“I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the Jordan Brand family,” said Williamson. “Since I was a kid, I dreamed of making it to the league and having the type of impact on the game Michael Jordan had and continues to have today. He was one of those special athletes I looked up to, and I really can’t express how happy and excited I am for this journey.”