ZIon Williamson has apparently forgiven Nike for that whole exploding shoe mishap earlier this year. The New Orleans Pelicans draft pick and former Duke basketball freshman standout has agreed to endorse Nike’s Jordan Brand of sneakers.
Nike made the announcement Tuesday. Shares of Nike rose about 1%. The stock has gained nearly 17% this year.
Adding Williamson is a big win for Nike, especially after Williamson famously hurt himself in February after his Nike sneaker broke during a crucial game. Williamson returned to Duke in March but decided to leave the school after just one year to join the NBA.
Williamson wound up choosing Nike over rivals such as Adidas and Under Armour, both of which have made some successful signings of top hoops stars in recent years: James Harden of the Houston Rockets is an Adidas endorser and Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry has a line of shoes for Under Armour.
In early March, Williamson was rumored to be leaning toward signing with Adidas after he appeared in an Instagram Live video wearing Adidas gear.
Nike likely hopes that Williamson could wind up being another transcendent star like Michael Jordan, the six-time NBA champ for the Chicago Bulls who is now principal owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets franchise.
“Zion’s incredible determination, character and play are inspiring,” Jordan said in a statement. “He’s an essential part of the new talent that will help lead the brand into the future. He told us he would ‘shock the world,’ and asked us to believe him. We do.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed and Nike was not immediately available for comment about how much it was paying Williamson nor the length of his contract.
“I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the Jordan Brand family,” Williamson said in the statement. “I really can’t express how happy and excited I am for this journey.”
Williamson, the first pick in this year’s NBA Draft, is expected to be such a huge superstar that shares of New York Knicks owner Madison Square Garden and cable TV station MSG Networks fell after the team didn’t win the first pick in the NBA’s draft lottery in May.