While many across the basketball world were extremely impressed with Zion Williamson after his NBA debut on Wednesday night, one endorsement likely stands above most for the New Orleans Pelicans rookie.
NBA legend and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan was tuned in for his stellar inaugural game, and was blown away by what he saw out of Williamson.
"The NBA is very fortunate to have a talented young man who shows a certain passion about the game," Jordan said Friday ahead of the Hornets’ game against the Milwaukee Bucks in France, via ESPN. "That's something you can't get. You're born with it, and you share it with the rest of the world."
Williamson, who missed the first 44 games of the season while recovering from knee surgery, scored 22 points in his NBA debut on Wednesday night for the Pelicans — including an impressive three-minute stretch in the fourth quarter where he dropped 17 straight.
While they lost in the end, falling 121-117 to the San Antonio Spurs at the Smoothie King Center, it didn’t matter. All eyes were on Williamson, who went 8-of-11 from the field and a perfect 4-of-4 from behind the arc.
Jordan believes that Williamson has plenty more to offer the league, too. He’s only just getting started.
"What you saw the other night is a taste of what you're going to see going forward," Jordan said, via ESPN. "He's still got a lot to do, but I think his passion for the game is coming through the way that he plays. That's great for the league."
Zion’s massive endorsement deal with Jordan
Jordan will be able to watch Williamson’s game from afar throughout his time in the league, and will be tasked with fielding a team capable of stopping the reigning No. 1 overall draft pick.
He also, though, has the chance to work with the 19-year-old off the court.
Williamson and Jordan’s brand, Jordan, signed a massive endorsement deal ahead of the season.
Jordan said they saw Williamson as an “impact player that would bring a lot of energy to the game of basketball,” something he thinks can be a huge benefit for the brand. It’s not clear how much their deal together is worth, however it is reportedly the most lucrative rookie shoe deal in league history, per ESPN. He also reportedly had other endorsement offers that exceeded $10 million per year.
"We were very fortunate that he chose us," Jordan said, via ESPN. "We look at every opportunity to expand him to the consumers and showcase his personality and his basketball skills. We can't play basketball for him, but we feel like he does present us an opportunity to showcase his talents. And that's what our job is going to be. It's a great partnership."
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