Companies like Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour use these athletes to promote and market their shoes. After all, fans see their favorite, most dominant players in the league using them. Why wouldn’t you want to wear the latest pair of Lebrons? Or KDs? Or even Kobes?
Jordan Brand is a subsidiary of Nike. In 2019 they made 3.1 billion dollars, or 8% of Nike’s total profit for the year. Now, imagine that success if Nike or any of the other footwear companies took a chance on a WNBA player? It’s time someone in the WNBA gets a signature shoe.
Women in the WNBA have had their own shoes before. Dawn Staley had a shoe with Nike in 1999 that some call the best basketball shoe of all time. Superstar Sheryl Swoops donned the Air Swoops Zoom first in 1997, and they were so popular, Nike retroed and re-released them in 2017. They were the first shoe specifically designed and worn and marketed by a WNBA player. Since then though, no one has really had a deal since.
Do these huge brands believe the market isn’t there? If so, that’s not a good answer. The market is there. People watch both the WNBA and the NBA. Young girls want to be the next Sabrina Ionescu or Breanna Stewart. If you give those athletes their own shoe, not only would it inspire the next generation of ballers, but show their passion for the game, on and off the court.
Take nine-year-old Riley Morrison for example as a basketball fan who wanted a specific kind of shoe, but couldn’t find it. Her favorite basketball player is Steph Curry, and she was disappointed to find out that his basketball shoes do not run in girls’ sizes. She wrote him a letter, and he gratefully acknowledged the problem and gave her a pair from his women’s line that was set to drop on National Women’s Day. Sized for women and all.
She held Curry accountable. She saw a problem and set out to change it. Curry and his signature shoes are some of the only shoes designed by an NBA player that keep women and girls in mind.
So, who is the most deserving of a sneaker deal? That’s tough to say with all the talent that these women in the WNBA have. They are passionate, driven, and respectable athletes. If they could all get sneaker deals, they would definitely all deserve them. There has been some talk of Ionescu possibly getting a shoe deal, because she signed a contract with Nike earlier this year.
Ionescu could be a top competitor in who lands the shoe line. She’s young, talented, and strives to play each minute on the court better than the last. She was the biggest star in college basketball, holding the record for all-time triple-doubles.
She said to Insider “Whether that’s going to be a shoe down the line or whatever it is, I’m just hoping to fit with a brand that can use me on their platform to kind of advocate for something bigger than basketball.”