Saturday December 9, 2023

Bronny James, Caitlin Clark Headline Nike’s Latest NIL Deals

  • A pattern is emerging in Nike's growing NIL roster.
  • The apparel giant announced deals with DJ Wagner, JuJu Watkins, Caitlin Clark, Haley Jones, and Bronny James.
Nathan Papes/Springfield News-Leader
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Nike has inked five more name, image, and likeness deals with two standout women’s college basketball players — Stanford’s Haley Jones and Iowa’s Caitlin Clark — as well as three top high school prospects including Bronny James, the company announced on Monday.

Since signing UCLA soccer star Reilyn Turner in 2021, the sports brand has taken its time building an NIL roster. But it’s become clear that Nike is interested in two types of players: women’s players and high schoolers.

  • In addition to Turner, the brand signed a deal with Stanford golfer Rachel Heck. 
  • It also added Stanford soccer commits Gisele and Alyssa Thompson — twins who attend the prestigious Harvard Westlake in Los Angeles.
  • Nike now endorses two Sierra Canyon hoopers in Bronny James and women’s player JuJu Watkins. 
  • Top prospect DJ Wagner, whose participation was officially announced on Monday, has previously appeared in a campaign for NOCTA, Nike’s collaboration with Drake.

Bronny James, of course, was a major get. Bronny, who has an On3 NIL valuation of $7.3 million, secured millions of followers on Instagram before he was even eligible for a California driver’s license. But until now, he only had one other deal.

It makes perfect sense that his first major foray into NIL would be with the company with which his father has a lifetime contract. 

“For as long as I can remember, Nike’s been a part of my family,” Bronny said in a statement. “Getting a chance to team up with them and continue my family’s legacy both on the court and in the community is wild — it really means a lot to me.”

One way Nike’s NIL program differs from competitors Under Armour and Adidas, however: It’s much more focused on the highest-profile athletes, rather than elevating lesser-known players.

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