Former Arizona Wildcats big man Lauri Markkanen has inked a multi-year endorsement deal with Nike, it was announced Monday.
“First pair of basketball shoes I can remember wearing were Nike, and today I’m excited to officially join the Nike Fam!” Markkanen tweeted.
According to the press release, “Markkanen joins fellow 2017 NBA draftees Markelle Fultz, De'Aaron Fox, Jayson Tatum, Malik Monk, Bam Adebayo, Harry Giles and Jonathan Isaac as the next generation of Nike Basketball.”
The terms of the deal were not released.
The 7-footer, now with the Chicago Bulls, becomes the first Finnish basketball player to be endorsed by Nike, and it will be interesting to see what type of influence that will have on Finnish basketball in the future.
Finnish sports journalist Tapio Suominen said “Lauri’s following in Finland has reached unbelievable measures” and that “folks are starting to understand basketball/NCAA/NBA.”
He added, “our National team's five Euro Champs group stage home games in September are sold out, 13,000 (fans) per game, largely thanks to Lauri.”
Markkanen was selected seventh overall in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves — becoming the first Finnish player to be selected in the first round — before being traded to Chicago.
Other former Arizona basketball players endorsed by Nike include Andre Iguodala, Richard Jefferson, Derrick Williams, and Channing Frye.
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire