Few would question that Zion Williamson is by far the top play entering the NBA, and so where he’ll play is not up for debate. But what will be on his feet when he debuts as a professional basketball player? Could a Chinese brand like of Li-Ning, Peak or Anta steal the hottest NBA rookie from the likes of Nike (NKE) and Adidas (ADDYY)? Some experts believe it's possible.
"I’m betting that a Chinese brand steps up here,” said Matt Powell, NPD Group vice president, and senior industry advisor. “I have no idea what the contract will be ... I see the Chinese brands trying to take back market share they lost to western brands.”
That time Zion’s Nikes exploded
On a chilly evening in late February, millions watched as then Duke star Zion Williamson's left Nike PG 2.5 sneaker exploded at the start Duke vs. University of North Carolina (UNC) game. The incident was a scary one for Duke, but an embarrassing one for Nike. The swoosh brand immediately sprung into action — sending a team to make a mold of Williamson's foot and creating a modified version of Kyrie 4's for the 6′ 7″ 285 lb star.
Nike and its stock would recover from the temporary embarrassment. But from that incident sparked a debate that would play out until draft day: To which shoe company Zion would sign?
Before shoegate it was seen as a foregone conclusion that the 2019 first overall draft pick would sign with Nike. That's the brand he played in during his time at Duke and Nike is the choice of most NBA players. According to data compiled by Ballershoesdb.com 72% of NBA players hoop in Nike owned sneakers, which includes Jordan brand.