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Exclusive: Hornets Lottery Pick James Bouknight Signs With Nike

The rookie out of Connecticut becomes the fifth member of the 2021 NBA Draft class to join the Swoosh family.

After a strong summer league showing, James Bouknight, the Charlotte Hornets’ No. 11 overall pick of the 2021 NBA Draft, has signed a multi-year footwear and apparel endorsement deal with Nike.

As he told Boardroom, his longtime affinity for the brand has extended from his days playing the game as a teenager on the courts across the street from New York City’s Fulton Houses to his time at UConn — and now, his pro career in the NBA.

“Honestly, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been wearing Nike,” Bouknight said. “Growing up, hoopin’ in KDs, hoopin’ in Kyries, hoopin’ in Kobes… I honestly couldn’t see myself as anything other than a Nike athlete.”

In Las Vegas, where the 20-year-old averaged nearly 17 points a game for the Hornets’ Summer League team, the 6-foot-4 slasher was spotted lacing up the Nike Kobe 5 Protro, as well as the Kyrie 4 Low. 

He now joins a Nike NBA rookie class that includes Scottie Barnes, Jonathan Kuminga, Chris Duarte, and No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham.

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While most lottery picks destined for the league made their mark in glossy gyms and on the AAU circuit at a young age, “Bouk” was actually a late bloomer, growing into his own battling against grown men at the park as a teenager.

“In the future, I’m definitely looking forward to locking in with Nike and giving back to New York City and the blacktops,” he said. “Those courts that helped build who I am today.”

As part of the Nike deal, Bouknight plans to provide support to the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, with which the brand recently collaborated on a separate apparel collection.

His father, John, has been a supervisor with the NYC Parks & Rec department for over 30 years, further strengthening the family’s longtime connection to the local courts that shaped the city’s latest NBA lottery pick. 

“Being able to somehow give back to this city has definitely motivated me,” beamed Bouknight. “I look forward to doing big things with Nike.”

About The Author
Nick DePaula
Nick DePaula
Nick DePaula covers the footwear industry and endorsement deals surrounding the sporting landscape, with an emphasis on athlete and executive interviews. The Sacramento, California, native has been based in Portland, Oregon, for the last decade, a main hub of sneaker company headquarters. He’ll often argue that How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days is actually an underrated movie, largely because it’s the only time his Sacramento Kings have made the NBA Finals.