LeBron James will go into the NBA with a swoosh.
James, the high school star expected to be the No. 1 pick in next month’s draft, signed a multiyear shoe contract with Nike, the same company that launched Michael Jordan’s career.
The shoe deal comes less than a day before James learns where he’ll be wearing his Nikes as a pro. The NBA will hold its draft lottery tonight, and the winner gets the right to select James with the first pick.
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Denver Nuggets, who finished tied for the league’s worst record this season, have the best chance at getting the top pick.
Aaron Goodwin, James’ agent, reached agreement on the deal with Nike late Wednesday night. Nike spokesman Mark Shapiro confirmed James’ signing, which was first reported on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.”
ESPN.com, citing unidentified sources, said it was a seven-year deal.
James’ publicist, Alexandria Boone, would not confirm the deal but said an announcement would be made today.
Financial terms were not immediately available, but recent published reports predicted that the 18-year-old from Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High might get a $100 million deal.
James also signed an exclusive multiyear contract with Upper Deck trading cards.
Terms of James’ deal with Upper Deck were not immediately available, but Boone said it included a $1-million signing bonus.
Upper Deck spokesman Jake Gonzales said James is the youngest person ever signed by Upper Deck, whose other spokesmen include Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett.
Danny Ainge, the new basketball boss of the Boston Celtics, extended Coach Jim O’Brien’s contract through the 2005-06 season.
O’Brien took over the Celtics when Rick Pitino resigned on Jan. 8, 2001. He coached the team to two consecutive playoff berths after a six-year drought.
Also Wednesday, Ainge said Vin Baker could return to play on the Celtics’ summer-league team after being suspended in February for personal issues.
The team has not disclosed the specifics of Baker’s condition.