Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Battle over Zion Williamson marketing begins as he sues marketing firm to end contract

NBA Draft Lottery Basketball

Duke’s Zion Williamson arrives for the NBA basketball draft lottery Tuesday, May 14, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nuccio DiNuzzo)


Zion Williamson will be the No. 1 pick in the NBA a week from today draft and is poised to transform the New Orleans Pelicans on the court.

Williamson is also poised to be a marketing bonanza off the court — he could draw the largest rookie shoe deal since LeBron James before ever stepping on the court. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

The battle over who gets to control and guide that marketing is heating up, and now has reached the courtroom.

Williamson has signed with CAA to be his agent and handle his marketing, but he already had a marketing contract with Prime Sports. Now Williamson is suing Prime to get out of that contract, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Duke star Zion Williamson is suing to enforce his termination of an agreement he signed with a Florida marketing company, maintaining their deal was unlawful under North Carolina law, his attorneys told ESPN...

That agreement included a clause that it could not be terminated for five years. Williamson’s family told Ford and Prime Sports on May 31 that it was ending the agreement. The agency responded by saying that if Williamson terminated the deal, they would sue for damages in excess of $100 million...

According to the suit, the agreement was unlawful under North Carolina’s Uniform Athlete Agents Act because Prime Sports is not certified by the National Basketball Players Association or a registered athlete agent in North Carolina or Florida.

At stake is controlling the marketing rights for Williamson, which is going to be big money. Especially if he lives up to the lofty expectations for his potential as a franchise player.

As a guy who spent time as a journalist covering court cases, what this will come down to is settling on a number to buy out Prime Sports. While everyone will posture at the start of this, at the end of the day there will be a settlement (for less than $100 million) and everyone will sign off. Williamson made a mistake signing that deal before he had true representation and it’s going to cost him, the only question is how much?