Zion Williamson is now a Nike athlete. The New Orleans Pelicans rookie will be the newest face for the Beaverton, Ore.-based shoe giant. It’s a great get for Nike, and a turnaround from the fiasco that faced them when Williamson blew out his Paul George signature shoes during a game at Duke.
Williamson is technically a Jordan Brand guy, and his own signature shoe isn’t here just yet. The Pelicans youngster will reportedly star the year wearing the latest Jordan — the 34 — but his own signature line might not be too far off.
According to ESPN, Williamson’s first shoe (perhaps the “Air Zion 1”) could arrive in February of 2020.
Though the Swoosh was present, the plan from the start was for this to be a Jordan Brand pitch, grounded in the belief that Williamson could take the $3 billion sub-brand of Nike Inc. centered around the Air Jordan line to even greater heights. He would potentially wear the upcoming Air Jordan 34, the brand’s flagship annual model that Michael Jordan himself made famous during his playing career. Eventually, he would receive his own signature Jordan Brand model, with a reveal of that sneaker coming as early as All-Star Weekend in Chicago, Jordan’s home for most of his professional playing career.
That’s an incredible turnaround for a guy who hasn’t even played a game yet and who doesn’t appear to have a set position or a strong jumper. No doubt guys can be stars without excellent 3-point shooting in this league — LeBron James did it at a young age — but LeBron didn’t play his entire career in this 3-point crazy era.
I’m not saying Williamson won’t be a star, because he already is. But signature shoes aren’t just handed out willy-nilly, particularly for Jordan Brand athletes. Giannis Antetokounmpo just got his shoe released, right after his first MVP. The point being, Wililamson needs to be very good to make that happen as early as next February.
No doubt Williamson’s shoe will cater to his every need, and the particular forces he induces upon a shoe when playing the game of basketball. Antetokounmpo’s shoe came out pretty good, I’ll be curious to see what Nike cooks up for Williamson if and when that day comes.