Two-time WNBA champion and league MVP A’ja Wilson is getting her own shoe

The WNBA star announced the pending arrival of her long-awaited Nike signature on Saturday, the same day that the Las Vegas Aces played the Puerto Rican national team at South Carolina. The preseason matchup was a homecoming for Wilson, who played for the Gamecocks and grew up in Columbia —making it a fitting moment to drop the news. 

Wilson showed up to the arena with a sweatshirt that read "Of Course I Have A Shoe Dot Com," revealing a URL that redirects to Nike’s website. The sneaker will be called the A’One.

The shoe — along with Wilson’s signature collection — will arrive in 2025. Having first signed with the athletic mega-brand as a rookie in 2018, the former No. 1 draft pick has reportedly been refining designs with Nike for over a year. 

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"It's been incredible working with Nike toward a dream of having my collection, and it really is an honor to take this next step and become a Nike signature athlete," Wilson said in Saturday's press release. "From my logo to the look of the shoe and the pieces throughout the collection, we've worked to make sure every detail is perfectly tuned to my game and style."

She told Andscape’s Aaron Dodson that the highlight for her was being able to announce the drop in conjunction with the Aces’ trip to her alma mater and hometown.

"The biggest thing for me is I get to showcase what I've been working on for a couple of years now in my home state, in my home city," Wilson said. "A place where people watched me grow and I raised eyebrows like, 'Is she really that good?!' To then seeing me in college and now in the pros."

When the A'One debuts, the 27-year-old will most likely be the 14th WNBA athlete to receive a signature shoe. Current players with active shoe contracts include Breanna Stewart, Elena Delle Donne, and Sabrina Ionescu. Caitlin Clark is next in line to receive a shoe in her new deal with Nike, although the brand has yet to confirm that detail.

After talk of Clark's shoe-inclusive Nike deal hit the headlines in mid-April, questions arose around Wilson's lack of signature footwear, with many pointing to a dearth of Black representation within the recent influx of shoe collaborations. The last Black WNBA player to receive her own shoe was Candace Parker with Adidas in 2010, while Wilson marks the first Black WNBA player to ink a Nike shoe agreement since Sheryl Swoopes in 2002.

Wilson has been working with Nike on refining her signature shoe design for over a year. (Nike)

"There's definitely value in patience," Wilson told Andscape. "That's something [South Carolina] Coach [Dawn] Staley has taught me — that some of the best things come from waiting and 'what's delayed is not denied.' That's something I have tatted on me. That's something I live through. So it's something I'm going to stick through."

In a news release, Nike said they were "proud to introduce A'ja Wilson as the newest member of the brand's signature family, marking the next chapter of partnership with one of basketball's greatest athletes."

Wilson is working with the same shoe designer that partnered with Ionescu, as well as Kyrie Irving before the Mavericks shooting guard parted ways with Nike in 2022. Wilson's upcoming signature collection will be "inspired by her distinctive style, incredible performance, and unapologetic realness," per Nike. "As one of the most iconic basketball players of her generation, of course, she got a shoe," they added.

Wilson’s hopes for the shoe is that girls wearing it can "feel powerful and understand that nobody can stop them from their dreams."

"It’s been an incredible ride, but there’s a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders now because it was starting to get hard," Wilson told Andscape. "But with the movement and growth of the game, I feel like this was the perfect time to say, 'Hey, I got a shoe on the way.'"

Caitlin Clark is reportedly close to cementing a hefty endorsement deal with Nike.

The Athletic was the first to break the news Wednesday evening, commenting that the deal would be worth "eight figures" and include her own signature shoe. On Thursday afternoon, the publication tweeted that the deal would top $20 million, according to lead NBA Insider Shams Charania. Both Under Armour and Adidas are said to have also made sizable offers to the college phenom and expected future WNBA star.

The new agreement comes after Clark's previous Nike partnership ended with the conclusion of the college basketball season. She was one of five NCAA athletes to sign an NIL deal with the brand back in October, 2022. 

Considering Clark's overwhelming popularity and Nike's deep pockets, the signing's purported value doesn't exactly come as a shock. New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu’s deal with the brand is reportedly worth $24 million, while NBA rookie and No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama’s deal is rumored to weigh in at $100 million. And in 2003, LeBron James famously earned $90 million off his own Nike deal. 

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Clark’s star power continues to skyrocket, with the NCAA championship averaging 18.9 million viewers and the 2024 WNBA Draft more than doubling its previous viewership record.

Following the draft, Fanatics stated that Clark's Indiana Fever jersey — which sold out within an hour — was the top seller for any draft night pick in the company’s history. More Caitlin Clark jerseys will be available at the start of the WNBA season, according to Nike.

In Wednesday's Indiana Fever introductory press conference, the unfailingly cool, calm, and collected Clark said that turning pro hasn’t made a huge impact on how she’s conducting her deals.

"If I’m being completely honest, I feel like it doesn’t change a ton from how I lived my life over the course of the last year," she said. "Sponsorships stay the same. The people around me, agents and whatnot, have been able to help me and guide me through the course of the last year. I don’t know if I would be in this moment if it wasn’t for a lot of them."

Sabrina Ionescu’s signature shoe hit the market in 2023 as an instant hit, including among NBA players.

But for the New York Liberty guard, the sneaker was a long-held secret. In an essay for Boardroom, Ionescu writes about keeping that secret – and also what it has been like since the launch of the Nike Sabrina 1s.

Among the more startling experiences since the release was seeing a woman wearing the shoes in the grocery store.

“It was the first time I saw someone outside my team or my family repping Sabrina gear,” Ionescu wrote. “The feeling was just surreal. It made this whole journey toward getting a signature line that people all over could get their hands on feel … real.”

Just 11 WNBA players had signature shoes before Ionescu. So when Nike announced the deal, it made headlines.

Before that, Ionescu had to keep the secret of the shoe for an entire year – including from her own family. That made debuting the Sabrina 1s, and wearing them in a WNBA game, feel all the better.

“That day, and every day since, there’s just this feeling of awe, to be honest, of being able to play a game in my own sneaker,” she continued. “I felt rooted in the shoe, knowing what it stood for and the story I wanted to tell.

“Trust me: Keeping a signature shoe — one of your biggest dreams — a secret from your family for an entire year was hard.”

Even still, Ionescu had to explain the importance of a signature shoe to her family, including how having her name on the box and the details – some which are important to her Romanian heritage – set a signature shoe apart.

“It’s been funny these last couple of months because there is nobody from my family or my fiancé’s family that is not in Sabrina gear or Sabrina shoes … to everything that we go to,” she wrote. “It’s like a 30-person Romanian mob that walks around, all reppin’!”

Ionescu has watched as Nike decked out its first floor in New York City, as kids at her camp donned the shoes, and as NBA players including Jrue Holiday, Mikal Bridges and Jordan Poole started wearing them. It’s a testament to the nature of the shoe, which was designed for people of all genders and as a push for equality and bridging the gap in basketball.

Holiday was one of the first players, which Ionescu says is a testament to “where his heart is at in supporting women’s sports.”

“I’m not gonna lie – every NBA game that’s on, that’s all I’m watching for. Who’s wearing my shoes? Who’s got ’em on?” she wrote. “Every game, I just look for the vertical Swoosh that’s on the inside of the shoe.

“It’s crazy to think about now, but the vision that Nike and I had together has really come to life. The fact that the Sabrina 1 is existent now in the NBA, in college basketball, and in high school is what we were going for all along.”

Paige Bueckers is officially a Nike athlete.

The UConn basketball guard has signed a deal with the shoe and apparel company, she revealed Wednesday. According to ESPN, the deal is a multiyear commitment and could extend into her pro career.

In a statement, Bueckers said she is “blessed and honored” to announce the partnership.

“Joining the Nike family is a childhood dream come true,” she said. “I can’t wait to see what we accomplish together on and off the court.”

Ahead of the season, Nike has tabbed Bueckers as one of the faces of its new GT Hustle sneaker. The Hustle 2, part of the “Greater Than” series, features molded insoles and a full-length foam underfoot for comfort when running.

Bueckers is set to make her return this season at UConn after missing last season with an ACL tear. Through 46 career games with the Huskies, she’s averaged 18.0 points and 5.1 assists. While she was cleared to resume playing last month, she did not compete in the Huskies’ overseas exhibition tour in August.

UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said last month that Bueckers is the “best she’s ever been” since her return.

“This is the best she’s ever been, the strongest she’s ever been, the fittest she’s ever been,” he told reporters. “This is the most time she has spent working on her body, her mind, [and] just taking care of herself. … [The injury layoff] showed her, if you want a long career, this is how you’re gonna have to go about it from here on in injuries, no injuries, it doesn’t matter. This is what you’re gonna have to do. And she’s embraced it.”

Sabrina Ionescu is joining an elite club, and not just because of her stats on the basketball court.

Her Nike signature shoe, dubbed the Sabrina 1, will be released Friday. The New York Liberty guard becomes just the 12th WNBA player to have a shoe bearing her name, and she is just the second woman athlete to receive a signature shoe from Nike in more than a decade. She joins Elena Delle Donne, who released her own shoe last year.

The Sabrina 1s were announced in February, and seven months later they are about to hit store shelves. It’s a huge moment for the girl that grew up playing in Nike Dunks.

“Now, to be able to see my name on shoeboxes and around the world means a lot,” she told CBS Mornings.

On Wednesday, she unveiled the two colorways for her shoe, one titled the Sabrina 1 “Spark” and the other the Sabrina 1 “Ionic.” Both feature a stylized “S” on the tongue and a custom Nike swoop on the inside heel of the shoe.

“It’s been years in the making,” she said, noting that the process has taken three years. “The design has been really fun, partnering with Nike. The swoosh being upwards on the inside is just no glass ceilings, breaking barriers. There are so many hidden designs in the shoe that I’m excited to be able to tell my story to the world.”

Additionally, this will be the first unisex signature shoe collection designed by Nike. The idea to make a unisex shoe was her first request of Nike in the design process, Ionescu said.

“I wanted to create a unisex shoe, so the ability for young girls, boys, men and women to be able to wear it,” she said. “Growing up, I played basketball and there were so many young boys and men that were like, ‘You shouldn’t be playing with us.’

“And so, when I was in the process of designing this shoe I wanted anyone anywhere to be able to put this shoe on and accomplish whatever it is that they wanted to.”

She also joins non-basketball players such as Serena Williams, Megan Rapinoe and Naomi Osaka to have namesake collections with Nike.

“They’re legends,” Ionescu said. “In their respective sports but also just as people and what they mean to the sports world. I’m super excited to represent Nike and myself and continue to change the game.”

Nike athletes at the 2023 Women’s World Cup will have one less thing to worry about.

The sportswear brand announced a new product line Thursday designed to help minimize the risk of period leaks, and all 13 national teams partnered with Nike will be provided with the new shorts.

The new line, titled “Leak Protection: Period,” has been years in the making. Part of the developments include a “two-layer laminate gusset and liner that absorbs, wicks and holds blood with a membrane that acts as an anti-leakage barrier,” according to The Athletic. The new liner has been added to already existing products and is meant to be worn along with a tampon, pad or cup.

This new product will be released for sale in April as part of the Nike One Short. National team players will be provided with Nike Pro Shorts with leak protection in two lengths as part of each team’s base layer for their uniforms. The options will match World Cup kits for each federation.

“Fear of bleed through is very real – and not just through the teen years, but through the entire journey of menstruation,” Nike Apparel Innovation senior product manager Lisa Gibson said in a release. “Nike Leak Protection: Period is for people with periods across all life stages, designed to give them an added layer of confidence so they can feel secure during all forms of sport and movement. It’s an innovation that we believe will change people’s lives.”

The shorts join a growing trend in women’s sports, which the NWSL’s Orlando Pride continued earlier this month in announcing all-black shorts with their away kits as a way to help address period concerns.

Other clubs in Europe also have made the switch, while Wimbledon changed its rules to allow non-white undergarments.

Nike has signed seven WNBA rookies ahead of the league’s 25th season.

Charli Collier, Rennia Davis, Awak Kuier, Aari McDonald, Michaela Onyenwere, DiDi Richards and Iliana Rupert are all now Nike athletes. All seven were selected in April’s WNBA Draft, with Collier, Kuier and McDonald going Nos. 1-3.

Nike’s partnership with the WNBA has spanned from apparel collections to various initiatives for girls and women in sport.

Nike has produced the WNBA uniforms since 2018.