Best of WNBA Nike Signature Shoes

Sheryl Swoopes, Rebecca Lobo and Lisa Leslie

Since the WNBA began play in 1997, many legendary women have stepped on the court to showcase their skills. Some of these women were fortunate enough to have their own signature shoe, and for reasons unknown, a lot of them have flown under the radar. While there have been plenty of women sigs since 1997, today we are going to take a look at the top five Nike Women’s sigs of all time!

WNBA stars with Robin Roberts

Legendary player, legendary coach

Dawn Staley has done it all on the court. While her WNBA career began with the Charlotte Sting in ’99, her professional career starter a few seasons prior with the ABL’s Richmond Rage. During her WNBA tenure she was a six time All-Star and voted one of the league’s top 15 players of all time. Perhaps more impressive is while playing for Charlotte, Staley was also the coach of the Temple Owls, leading them to six NCAA title appearances. Since retiring from playing Staley has continued to be one of the top coaches in the game, leading South Carolina to a NCAA title in 2017. On top of all of those accolades lies the Nike Air Zoom S5. Released in 1999, it was part of Nike’s Alpha Project, complete with heel and forefoot Air Zoom. Some say this is one of the greatest hoops shoes ever, regardless of what gender they were made for.

Nike Air Zoom S5
Staley in the Air 2 Strong

These aren’t a men’s shoe?!

This was my initial reaction and disappointment to seeing the Air Swoopes Zoom in the pages of an NBA Inside Stuff during my youth. Swoopes was the first player to sign on with the WNBA in 1996, but already had her own signature shoe. In fact, she was the first woman to receive her own sig! During her career, Swoopes was a four time champion, six time All-Star, made seven All-WNBA teams and was a three time DPoY winner. She also had a her own signature line, seven shoes total, from Nike that turned heads from its inception. However, in 1997 the Air Swoopes Zoom jumped to the forefront of not only women’s shoes, but men’s as well. You couldn’t open up a sports magazine without seeing those razor sharp ‘teeth’ and that sleek design. The shoe featured full length Zoom Air and continues to be talked about 22 years later as one of the top hoops shoes to never see a retro.

Nike Air Swoopes Zoom
Nike Air Swoopes, the first women’s signature shoe

What’s she gonna do? SHE DUNKED IT!!

Those were the words said by the announcer as Lisa Leslie became the first woman to dunk in a WNBA game back in 2002. Another household name amongst basketball fans, Leslie was one of the all-time greats. A two time champ, three MVP awards, eight all star appearances, 12 All-WNBA teams and two DPoY awards. She accomplished these feats by being of the faces of the Nike Women’s division. Perhaps her most popular shoe was the Nike Total Air 9, which looked similar to many of the Total Air shoes from the men’s line such as the Total Air Max Uptempo and the Total Air Foamposite Max.

Leslie holding the WNBA championship trophy
Nike Total Air 9

Hangin with Ms. Cooper

By the time the WNBA started play, Cynthia Cooper was 34 years old with a Hall of Fame resume. She had four gold medals with one being Olympic and had already dominated the women’s Italian League. She didnt let her age keep her from being one of the WNBA greats in four seasons. During her short tenure in the league she won four WNBA titles, four finals MVP’s, two league MVP’s, three All-Star appearances, four All-WNBA teams and a three time scoring champion. Those would be epic feats over a ten year career, but did in less than half of the time. Cooper had a couple of signature shoes with Nike, but none more impressive than the Air Max Shake Em Up. They were very similar in design to the men’s Air Team Max Zoom produced the same year, 1998.

Cooper after winning her fourth title

Nike Air Max Shake Em Up

Not quite sigs, but unique

Finally I want to put some focus on future Hall of Famer Seimone Augustus. She’s spent her entire career with the Minnesota Lynx. A winner of four WNBA titles, including one Finals MVP, eight All-Star appearances, and six All-WNBA teams. This doesn’t even include what she’s accomplished overseas, which is just as impressive! While Augustus doesn’t have her own signature model, she’s made it a point to stick out from the rest with her amazing customs from mlps_customs on Instagram. A huge fan of cartoons, Seimone has had shoes that feature Care Bears, Duck Tales and even My Little Pony. I was fortunate enough to receive her My Little Pony pair, which she sent to me for my daughter. Seimone told me her favorite all time shoe is the Air Jordan V, but her favorite custom is the Care Bear Kyrie shown below.

Augustus driving to the hoop
Care Bear Kyrie 4
My Little Pony Kyrie 5 Be True
My Little Pony Kyrie 5 Be True

What now?

Chamique Holdsclaw was the last woman to receive a signature shoe from Nike, and that’s a shame. The current crop of WNBA talent is as good as its ever been, and there’s no excuses for Nike to not give said talent their own shoe! What current WNBA player deserves a sig? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. Pingback: It’s Time Someone in the WNBA Gets a Shoe Deal - GoodSport

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