There haven’t been many players in the history of the NBA as unique or disruptive as Zion Williamson. The combination of his strength and athleticism has rarely been seen in any sport.
The hulking Williamson stands at 6´7” and 284 lbs which currently makes him the 3rd heaviest player in the NBA. His massive frame seems to have no effect on his leaping ability. Night after night, he turns in some of the most vicious dunks you will ever see. He draws comparisons to the great Shaquille O’Neal, Karl Malone, and LeBron James because of his skill and size. But, he has a style all his own. The young NBA star has played only two years in the league and is already showing signs of becoming an all-time great.
Naturally, a player of his caliber is a prime candidate for receiving a signature shoe and that is exactly what “Zanos” is getting.
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Zion, Jordan Brand and the Zion 1
Back in 2019, Zion signed a seven-year deal with Jordan Brand worth $75 million and since then sneaker fans have been eager to see the Zion signature model. The much-awaited shoe is here at last: the Zion 1.
The Zion 1 was designed to accommodate the unique athleticism of the gigantic power forward’s game. The shoe features a full-length Air Strobel unit with an additional stacked, bottom-loaded Zoom Air unit for cushioning, a wide base that provides extra stability, and good old reliable herringbone traction. One of the shoe’s unique features is the flexible and articulated tongue. This tongue was a focus point for Jordan Brand and provides targeted padding and unique stitching patterns to help ease lace pressure and to provide a snug fit. It’s supposedly “inspired by superhero armor and it provides protection, breathability, and freedom of movement all at the same time”.
Before Zion began doling out on-court beatings to the NBA’s finest, Zion was a household name while he was still in high school.
Zion gained notoriety when videos started surfacing of this incredible hulk getting eye-level with the rim before slamming home some of the most vicious dunks anyone had ever seen.
Zion and Adidas
Zion played his high school ball at Spartanburg in South Carolina. Spartanburg was an Adidas team, so naturally, we got to see him rocking several different Adidas models including the Harden Vol.1, the D Lillard 2, and the Crazy Explosive Low 2017. All three of these shoes are cushion-heavy guard shoes, well-suited to handle the play of a dense and explosive player. We also got to see Zion play in the Kyrie 2, but maybe this model’s lack of cushioning was the reason we didn’t see them in Zion’s rotation as much.
Zion’s AAU team (SC Supreme) where he played alongside Ja Morant, also was sponsored by Adidas. We saw him sport more colorways of the same kicks with the Hornets.
The only time we saw Zion use other brands consistently was during summer camps or at the USA Basketball Minicamp in 2017 where he rocked that year’s Hyperdunk model.
By his senior year, Zion was well known, especially after Drake wore his jersey. Soon James Harden, Baron Davis, and Atlanta Falcon’s Vic Beasley Jr. were watching from the stands, eager to see the youngster go off.
Zion would end up averaging 36 points, 11 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game his senior year. He was heavily recruited by all the major programs across the country. But what team would the big fella pick?
Zion Williamson at Duke
Zion decided to stay relatively close to home and committed to Duke playing under Mike Krzyzewski and alongside RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish. Zion would only play one year at Duke, but that was more than enough time to show the world what he could do at the college level.
As a freshman, he was named the consensus National Player of the Year. The only other player to be unanimously chosen as a freshman was Kevin Durant. Zion was named ACC Player of the Year and ACC Tournament MVP, becoming the first freshman in ACC history to achieve both in the same season. He was named to the ACC All-Defensive Team and was a national finalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award. He averaged 22.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game over 33 games.
Zion Williamson PGs and Kyries
During his time as a Blue Devil, Zion switched over to Nike for his footwear. He once again reached for guard shoes that offered a good amount of cushion and mobility to cater to his game. Zion mainly wore Kyries and PGs, but he was gifted, as all Duke players are, a plethora of Nike kicks including Blue-Devil-exclusive Lebron 16s and Kobe AD Exodus.
Zion’s biggest sneaker moment at Duke was not a good one. Zion wore the PG 2s and the PG 2.5s fairly consistently that season. In February of 2019, Duke was set to play their archrival UNC. The game was sold out and President Barack Obama was in attendance.
Zion strapped on a pair of Nike PG 2.5s in a white and blue Duke Colorway. Just 36 seconds into the game, Zion planted his foot to make a spin move and, as he did, the shoe blew up and his foot shot out of it. He awkwardly fell on the hardwood and had to leave the game with a knee strain. The hysteria that followed was remarkable. Every news outlet had a different analysis on how the shoe broke. Nike’s stock fell dramatically and pundits speculated on whether or not Zion should be shut down for the season to not risk further injury. The fact of the matter is that Zion just had bad luck wearing a very good shoe way too much.
The Blue Devils ended the season with a record of 32 and 6 and reached the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament. But, Zion was ready for the next step in his career.
Zion in the NBA
Zion declared himself eligible for the 2019 NBA draft and was considered to be the crown jewel of that year’s draft class. He would end up going number one to the New Orleans Pelicans which was a great landing spot for Zion.
In July of 2019, Zion signed his lucrative shoe deal with Jordan Brand and, a few months later, so did Slovenian superstar Luka Doncic, setting up the Jumpman to dominate the sneaker market for years to come.
Zion turned in an excellent rookie season. He averaged 22 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists per game during the shortened season. Even though the Pelicans didn’t make the playoffs, Zion provided his fans with some massive, gravity-defying highlights. He would lose the Rookie of the Year award to his old AAU teammate, Ja Morant, who also established himself as a budding NBA star.
It’s amazing that the bruising power forward didn’t bust through this minimalist model made by Nike. In any case, Zion did break out one other pair of J’s that season. A pair of Jordan 7s that he laced up for his rookie photo shoot.
Zion’s Jordan 35s
In 2021, before getting his own signature shoe with Jordan Brand, Zion wore an array of different Jordan 35 PEs, which took the PE concept to the next level. The level of customization on some of them was really something to be admired:
This season, the Pelicans have improved slightly as a team and Zion has taken the next step in his young NBA career. He was named to the 2021 NBA All-Star Team and he improved his stats to 26 points, 7 rebounds, and almost 4 assists per game. But his crowning achievement for the year has to be getting his own signature shoe with Jordan Brand. It must be good to be Zanos.