Sneaker culture has always been a prominent part of the WNBA, and like many other elements of the league, continues to expand and grow with each passing season. With so many of the league’s brightest players securing big-time endorsement deals with Nike, the Jordan Brand, etc., WNBA sneakerheads have a lot to look forward to in the coming months and years. To fully appreciate where we are at now, we have to acknowledge all of the WNBA legends that paved the way by breaking down barriers. Today we revisit some of the best signature sneakers from WNBA players. We hope you enjoy this article and don’t forget that the W’s 25th anniversary tips off on May 15th.
The 7 Best Signature Sneakers From WNBA Players
Y'all ready for some throwbacks?
1. Sheryl Swoopes Nike Air Swoopes 2 White Black Red
It’s only right that we start with the first woman to have her own signature shoe. Sheryl Swoopes made history in 1996 when she dropped her first silhouette as part of her deal with Nike. While the Air Swoopes had many different iterations, we’ll go with the 2s as they have a serious case for being one of the most iconic in Swoopes line alongside the Zooms (though all of her releases were groundbreaking). The detail on this shoe was amazing, and the overall design is still pretty rare as you won’t find many sneakers with curved laces on top of a mesh upper. Thanks to GOAT and Stock X, you can still find the Swoopes in certain sizes today.
2. Lisa Leslie Signature Shoe
Unfortunately, it is very hard to find Lisa Leslie’s sneakers today (every once in a while, the shoes will pop up via eBay or Poshmark), but there is no denying Leslie’s impact on the sneaker game and entertainment culture. Leslie was most frequently associated with the Nike Total Air 9s. The shoe dropped in 1998 and came in different colorways, including one that matched her USC school colors. Leslie still has an undeniable impact, and hopefully, we can see her shoes brought back at some point.
3. Dawn Staley Nike Zoom S5
Dawn Staley’s shoe game is impeccable, and you can always count on her to bring the heat on the sidelines. Staley’s sneaker heat isn’t new, though—she has been a shoe trendsetter since her early WNBA days, and the Nike Zoom S5 had a grip amongst the sports sneakerhead community upon its release in 1999. Unfortunately, the Zoom S5s are a rare find nowadays as well, so hopefully, we can get a re-release at some point in the future.
4. Cynthia Cooper Shake ‘Em Up
The Shake Em Ups were another defining moment in early WNBA history when Cynthia Cooper dropped these in 1998. The shoe had all of the qualities of the Nike Zoom Airs and was a performance sneaker with finesse and style. Cooper released many models during her time in the W and made her mark on the sneaker landscape amongst the league.
5. Rebecca Lobo ‘The Lobo’
Breaking away from the Nike pattern, Rebecca Lobo debuted ‘The Lobos’ with Reebok in 1998. The shoe was Lobo’s only during her time in the W but remains recognized for her Reebok influence within the WNBA, as she frequently sported the hottest Reebok’s as part of her deal with the brand.
6. Nikki McCray FILA
While FILA was founded in 1911, the brand began reaching its peak success around 1997/1998. Around that same time, the Washington Mystics' Nikki McCray signed a deal with the company and released her signature Delta sneakers, which was a unisex shoe that both men and women could wear. The Deltas were a red and white silhouette that matched Mystics colors and represented where sneaker culture was at design-wise in the late 1990s.
7. Chamique Holdsclaw Shox Mique
Chamique Holdsclaw’s signing with Nike was pivotal in the WNBA because she was the last player to receive a signature sneaker. In the time since, we have seen player exclusives with their input being heavily featured, but we haven't seen an official ‘signature launch’ since Holdsclaw’s 1999 deal. The Nike Shox Mique was first seen in 2001 and featured a blueish black upper with white overlays. This shoe is a gem that can no longer be found anywhere, so if you have a pair, consider yourself lucky.
It is hard to believe that it has been twenty years since we have last seen an official signature shoe from a WNBA player. Hopefully, that is something we’ll see a change soon, but in the meantime, we’ll be making a follow-up article on some of the best player exclusives we’ve seen from WNBA players in this past decade. Stay tuned.