A’Ja Wilson Gets Her Signature Shoe. Now Angel Reese Should Be Next, With An IG Following Of 3 Million That Transcends The Basketball Court

After hundreds of social media posts and content created around outrage that only a select group of white stars have signature shoes, A’ja Wilson became the first Black WNBA player with a signature shoe since the backlash began.

The long-anticipated news came Saturday morning as Wilson’s two-time champion Las Vegas Aces prepared to face the Puerto Rican national team in a preseason game at South Carolina’s Colonial Life Arena. The former Gamecocks national champion wore a sweatshirt to the arena that said, “Of Course I Have A Shoe Dot Com,” a URL that redirected to Nike’s website with the announcement.

A’Ja Wilson Gets Her Signature Shoe

Wilson, who has reportedly been working on the shoe for over a year, which makes the recent whining about her not having a shoe (mostly by people who don’t watch the WNBA and won’t buy the shoe anyway) look kind of silly now, is definitely a top 3 player in the WNBA. 

Not sure if she is solidified among the top 3 most popular players, but her statistical efforts and the fact that she’s leading the WNBA’s latest dynasty makes it understandable that she has her own signature shoe now. 

Black Twitter, in particular, threw a fit about Wilson not having a shoe and some journalists called the WNBA out on it, which proves that Nike will at least listen when its consumers yell loudly enough. 

So now that Wilson has the shoe, here’s a simple question that the gatekeepers of women’s sports probably won’t like. 

Who’s Going To Buy The Shoe? 

The big push behind getting Wilson a shoe was that she is an MVP and multiple WNBA champion so she should get one. 

That belief totally dismisses the fact that people have to buy the shoes and connect beyond the court with the player’s personality. This is what makes them marketable, which is most important. Not that Wilson isn’t both, but she’s not the hands-down most popular player in the league. She’s also a post player, which lessens the appeal.

In fact, her jersey sales for 2023 ranked behind Breanna Stewart, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Candace Parker. Top 5 isn’t bad, but for a league that only generates $60 million in revenue per season, that’s a huge investment of money and time for Nike in someone who only has about 887K followers on IG. That’s a respectable number for a WNBA player, but it also doesn’t scream iconic personality.

Angel Reese Should Get A Shoe

Chicago Sky rookie Angel Reese, however, is clearly a more marketable player. She has about 3 million followers on IG and she has a daily presence on the app. All she has to do is go live and thousands flock to just watch her talk. Or see what she’s wearing. That would have been a layup, same as Clark’s deal.

Reese is in the Reebok family, so if her popularity continues to rise, she might have one sooner than later.

Tim Duncan Was A GOAT, But Didn’t Have Many Endorsements

Tim Duncan was a five-time NBA champion, one of the best basketball players ever and was 1-2 with Kobe most of his career for NBA’s best player.  

But he has the personality of a log, and while people respected his game nobody wanted his sneakers. 

Via sneakernews.com: “Spending most of his nineteen years on the court with the San Antonio Spurs wearing adidas, his sneakers were most often quite an accurate representation of his game: very effective with great performance, but not flashy, or even that memorable at all. No offense to adidas, but can you even recite the name of one of his signature models with the Three Stripes?”

Duncan was very popular as soon as he stepped into the league with David Robinson, forming one of the greatest frontcourts in NBA history. Early in his career, he was down with the Nike family and wore some of the most iconic sneakers created.

Earlin his career, Tim Duncan had a brief relationship with Nike (Getty Images)
Early in his career, Tim Duncan could be spotted wearing Nike models like the Foamposite Pro and Air Max Uptempo 3.0.

Selling Sneakers Is About More Than Playing Well On The Court

There’s a personal charisma and connection off the court that elevates players to a level of marketability where people actually seek their sneakers out.

Now I don’t have any specific stats on how well any of the WNBA signature shoes sell. I do have teenage kids who play sports and I never heard any of them say, “Yo, I want the new Ionescu’s,” and, honestly, when it comes to hoops, they never mention A’ja Wilson. 

Maybe all of that will change now that Wilson has her shoe. Not sure how this helps anyone other than Wilson, but there are those who equate a win for her with a win for all Black women, and I’m down with that too!

Sheryl Swoopes was the first WNBA player to get a signature show from Nike back in 1995. Although a dozen women have received signature sneakers in the WNBA’s 27-year history, it had been over a decade since a woman had received a signature sneaker until just last year when Breanna Stewart’s Puma Stewie 1 hit shelves, followed by the release of Elena Delle Donne’s Nike Air Deldon. The Swoosh has also announced Sabrina Ionescu’s upcoming signature silhouette, the Nike Sabrina 1. 

Nobody was really paying attention until Caitlin Clark got her $28 million deal and then the push for Wilson’s release ramped up.

But Nike didn’t make this move for totally for business. They also did it for perception and when possible racial and gender disparities are thrown into the mix and highlighted it puts pressure on huge corporations to avoid being seen in a light that suggests they contribute to systemic oppression in any way. It was only common sense to make sure that Wilson has her signature shoe. She embodies everything that a role model should be and that has great value in itself.

Are you buying a pair?

Back to top