- Zion Williamson’s Nike shoe explodes as he suffered knee injury.
- Can Adidas or any of the other competitors capitalize?
- Who will ink the likely first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft?
If Nike was a front-runner to land Zion Williamson – the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft – to a coveted shoe deal, that plan took a hit Wednesday night.
Actually, it may have disintegrated.
— Overtime (@overtime) February 21, 2019
Rocking the Nike PG 2.5, Williamson fell awkwardly and injured his right knee, while his left plant foot erupted as he ripped right through the shoe, leaving his calf looking like it was hooked by a lobster claw.
Now it appears the shoe market is open to land the most impressive NBA rookie since LeBron James. I mean, Zion’s already legendary.
Zion Williamson ISN’T HUMAN! ? pic.twitter.com/ahUrI8d9w5
— ? (@TheKingReubs) February 11, 2019
Odds Who Zion Williamson Sign His First Shoe Deal With
|Jordan / Nike||+250|
*All odds taken 2/21
Puma Didn’t Wait to Pounce
Perhaps the media team at Puma should have waited for the dust to settle.
Puma tried to use Zion's injury as a sales tactic. pic.twitter.com/NMNGK1cIto
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) February 21, 2019
The game was just 33 seconds old, and Williamson’s status was up in the air.
Intro to social media rule #139: do not use a person’s injury to benefit your brand.
Smartly, the rest of the companies stayed quiet. The internet though? There’s a reason they remain undefeated.
— Brandon (@iLikeDanzDaily) February 21, 2019
— єиg1єωσσ∂ (@eng1ewood) February 21, 2019
— Canes Cartel ?⏰ (@CanesCartel) February 21, 2019
Nike in Damage Control
Nike’s stock reportedly took a dip after that unfortunate incident.
Which is fine: when it was announced that Williamson suffered just a mild MCL strain, and nothing catastrophic like a torn ACL, which would have shelved him for close to a year, everyone from Nike to hoop heads collectively breathed a sigh of relief.
— Jay Williams (@RealJayWilliams) February 21, 2019
For their part, the Swoosh handled it about as best they could.
— theScore (@theScore) February 21, 2019
Again, leave it to the internet to reveal that Nike products have, on occasion, gone boom.
Duke’s Zion Williamson was the most recent victim, but we’ve seen this a few times before.
Exploding Nike Basketball Shoes https://t.co/kXK7D2LbjZ
— Sean Cunningham (@SeanCunningham) February 21, 2019
Agency Could Matter
You didn’t need to watch High-Flying Bird on Netflix to know that agents and agencies are real power players in the NBA, and could play a big role with who Williamson eventually inks a deal with.
Looming over all at the moment appears to be Klutch, the mothership of LeBron’s lifelong friend Rich Paul, who you may have heard of recently among all the Anthony Davis kerfuffle. Should Zion go Klutch, it’s likely that Nike will have the inside track.
Zion recruitment in full swing
Roc Nation v Klutch, Puma vs Nike pic.twitter.com/4dXaS72bto
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) February 10, 2019
Then again, signing with Roc Nation might come with the caveat of being the face of Puma, Jay-Z’s latest business interest (though they do also represent Kevin Durant, a longtime Nike guy).
In the end, it’s likely that whoever throws the kid the most money will have the best shot at landing him.
What’s the Best Bet Here?
Adidas is a favorite because of the Nike snafu, but also because they’ve recently been able to meld culture with athletics. Zion, right now, is the culture shifting player. It would be a great combo with reigning MVP James Harden.
While I think that’s a worthy wager, I believe this is still Nike’s race to lose. They almost always land the big fish, with the other brands playing catch-up.
“Kawhi doesn’t need the cameras. He doesn’t need your hot takes. He doesn’t need to chase fouls or sweat comments or post selfies.”
Kawhi Leonard takes a shot at rival NBA All-Stars in his new New Balance ad.https://t.co/Mz3lUVUxRf
— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) February 21, 2019
If you’re looking for a long shot, the latest ad campaign for Kawhi Leonard and New Balance is impressive. I don’t know if it will be enough to sway Zion.