Basketball: Zion's shoe deal richest ever for rookie, says report

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson was the No. 1 pick in June's draft, and is widely regarded as the most coveted endorser to enter the NBA in years. PHOTO: AFP

NEW ORLEANS (REUTERS) - New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson's shoe deal with Jordan Brand is the largest ever for an NBA rookie in terms of annual pay, ESPN reported Wednesday (July 24).

ESPN reported the deal, which Williamson announced on Tuesday (July 23) on social media, is for five years.

The report added that several competitors made offers with total values "well into the nine-figure range", and other offers exceeding US$10 million (S$13.7 million) annually.

The deal surpassed LeBron James' as the previously most lucrative.

The No. 1 pick in June's draft, Williamson is widely regarded as the most coveted endorser to enter the NBA in years, arguably since James in 2003.

During his All-America freshman season at Duke last year, Williamson suffered a late-season right knee sprain after his Nike sneaker ripped apart as he planted his left foot in a game against North Carolina. But that didn't keep him from signing with a subsidiary of the company.

"I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the Jordan Brand family,"Williamson said in a statement. "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."

Other NBA stars who have a partnership with Jordan Brand include Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and Jimmy Butler.

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