Pelicans Rookie Zion Williamson has reportedly signed with Jordan. The former National Player of the Year inked a deal with the Jumpman worth $75M for five years. This makes his the richest rookie shoe deal in league history. Williamson’s signing gives Jordan a much needed facelift. Wizards Rookie Rui Hachimura and Celtics star Jayson Tatum will also be joining him. Hachimura is the first Japanese-born athlete to sign to the brand.
Despite having former MVP Russell Westbrook as brand ambassador, the Jumpman has struggled to widen their presence in the athletic apparel market. Other long time ambassadors Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul have fallen out of favor with most NBA fans due to injuries and lack of playoff success. Much of Jordan’s sales come from their retro line, which still maintains a strong consumer base all throughout North America and Europe. However, for the last few years there’s been a sense of ‘‘Jordan fatigue’’ amongst sneakerheads. Multiple releases of the same product in the eyes of many is seen as cheapening the image of Jordans overall.
In 2017 Adidas is the second most popular sneaker brand in the US, getting 11.3 percent in market shares. Nike was still the big fish with 37 percent while Jordan Brand had 9.7 percent. The contributions of Pharrell Williams and Kanye West have been a big hit amongst sneakerheads for much of this decade.
Puma has recently returned to the basketball market in grand fashion. The brand was looking at nabbing Williamson to add to their own growing club of hoopers, including several up and coming players like DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley, and Terry Rozier. Many suspected Williamson and Puma being a possibility after the 6 foot 7 inch forward arrived to summer league wearing their sneakers. Last year the apparel company announced that they were adding Jay-Z as head of Basketball Operations. Puma has also developed a sizable presence on social media. A-Boogie and Meek Mill also being on the roster should help Puma regain a foothold with the younger crowd. Nonetheless Puma will be a serious contender in the sneaker market for the next decade.
Jordan has a chance at building something special with Zion, a player whose game resembles a bigger Larry Johnson. As positions become obsolete in basketball, Williamson’s potential shines bright. The search for an heir apparent to his airness might be over.