Nike recently announced the signings of five basketball players to NIL deals, including Bronny James, the eldest son of Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James.
BREAKING: Nike has signed 5 student-athletes to NIL endorsement deals:
• Bronny James, Sierra Canyon guard
• Caitlin Clark, Iowa PG
• DJ Wagner, Top 2023 guard from Camden, NJ
• Haley Jones, Stanford guard
• JuJu Watkins, Sierra Canyon guard pic.twitter.com/RFX1eY1TFv
— Nick DePaula (@NickDePaula) October 10, 2022
Joining the younger James, who attends Sierra Canyon School, in signing with Nike is Juju Watkins, a member of that school’s girls basketball team.
The younger James’ agreement with Nike comes as no surprise, given the long connection that his father has with the worldwide corporation. That connection is one that’s spanned the elder James’ entire NBA career.
One indication of how much of a bond the elder James has with Nike was seen with last month’s opening of the LeBron James Innovation Center on the Nike campus in Oregon.
LeBron James opening his Innovation Center at Nike World Headquarters 👟
(via ponzales/TT) pic.twitter.com/beeX3ZYgN3
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 10, 2022
Looking at the entire structure, it’s clear that Nike spared no expense in creating a facility that will be very popular in the years ahead.
This week, Nike officially opened the LeBron James Innovation Center at its Oregon HQ 🏢
➖ 84,000 sq ft research lab
➖ 906 rooftop solar panels
➖ World's largest motion-capture system
➖ Full-size basketball court, turf pitch, 200m track, 500ft incline training ramp pic.twitter.com/CzeNMG0gQx
— Front Office Sports (@FOS) September 9, 2022
Even though the younger James is in his final year of high school, he’s been in the media spotlight for years. His prowess on the court hasn’t reached the same level of excitement that his father produced two decades ago, though he has shown off impressive talents from time to time.
The elder James has constantly indicated that he’d like to play with his eldest son in the NBA. Such a scenario would make for a historic moment, though the earliest it can happen is at the start of the 2024-25 season.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that the younger James will be picked up by an NBA team. If the two of them end up on the same team, the possibility exists that it could be with the Lakers.
The elder James agreed to a lucrative two-year contract extension in August, though the second year has a player option.
The NIL market has enriched plenty of top college and high school athletes and is now being used as a recruiting tool for many schools. If the younger James turns out to be anywhere near as good as his father, Nike’s investment will have been worth it.