A’One: Impact of A’ja Wilson’s Nike signature shoe – especially for Black girls and women – cannot be understated

Photo Credit: Lamar Carter

This has fittingly been one of the busier news weeks within the WNBA. Fittingly because we are only a few days away from tip off of the 2024 regular season. 

We have had an up-and-coming star (Angel Reese) grace the Met Gala with her presence and be announced in an upcoming Good American Denim clothing campaign for tall Black women. We have seen our league finally make real moves on a full chartered flights program with Delta Air Lines for the remainder of its current collective bargaining agreement with the players. 

We have seen a report that confirms a 14th team (Toronto) is on the horizon with a big announcement teased for May 23.

Then the chief a’ce of the league along with the athletic apparel outfit she is signed to decided to re-enter the chat at the correct time.

A’ja Wilson – the face of women’s basketball – will finally be getting her own signature sneaker. The A’One is scheduled for a Spring 2025 release. Included, per an article at Boardroom, will be an apparel collection plus adult and youth sizes for sneakers and slides. Jade-Li English, her agent at Klutch Sports, is always a woman with a plan and she has delivered yet again. 

Apparently, this has been in the works for at least a year. This actually dovetails with why when Nike announced recently that Caitlin Clark would be receiving a signature pair of kicks why Wilson simply responded to all of the social media hoop-la by…

…tweeting Bible verses. 

She and others within her orbit – including South Carolina coach Dawn Staley – knew this sneaker was in the works – and she knew when it was finally time for the rollout that it would be historic. And it has been in every possible way. 

Photo Credit: Travis Bell/NBAE/Getty Images

The OfCourseIHaveAShoe.com domain which redirects to the Nike page plugging the upcoming A’One was brilliant. The Swoosh’s message was directly aimed at those (including our staff at Beyond The W) who were clamoring for The Mayor of South Carolina to be rewarded with her own signature kicks.  

And of course it happened during the most opportune of times. The announcement of the A’One’s upcoming drop occurred the same day when the Palmetto State’s favorite daughter returned home with her Las Vegas Aces. The team was in Columbia – the very city where Wilson first became a household name both statewide and collegiately – to compete in a friendly at Colonial Life Arena with the Puerto Rican national team. 

The same Colonial Life Arena where Wilson has a statue right outside of its very entrance. And the same University of South Carolina where, as Wilson has mentioned on numerous occasions, Black people (including her grandmother) could not step foot on at one point in history.

As many Aces games have gone recently, it was all Las Vegas all the time. The Aces defeated La Equipa de Puerto Rico by a final score of 102-50. The only issue with the contest is someone should have televised it – especially given it was on the same day the A’One was announced. 

Wilson played 22 minutes and finished with a double-double of 29 points and 14 rebounds. Performances like that – even in a scrimmage – is why basketball fans from South Carolina to Nevada – and all points around and between – were clamoring for Nike to announce these A’Ones. 

Photo Credit: Travis Bell/NBAE/Getty Images

Not only is Wilson the first Black woman to have a signature shoe since Candace Parker in 2010, she is the first Black woman under the Nike umbrella to have her own signature shoe since 2002. 

The last one? Sheryl Swoopes. Speaking of Parker, she made a major move in retirement by becoming the president of the women’s basketball division within Adidas.

Those facts in regards to Air Swoopes and CP3 are not lost among the sizable Black portion of the women’s basketball fanbase. Prior to the announcement, four other WNBA players had signature shoes and all were white women. 

Elena Delle Donne, Sabrina Ionescu, Caitlin Clark (all of whom are Nike athletes) and Breanna Stewart (who previously was a Nike athlete but is now with Puma). In fact, Stewie and Ionescu recently spoke on the Wilson signature shoe matter at a New York Liberty training camp session with Girls Talk Sports TV’s Khristina Williams. 

There are a number of prominent Black figures in society that rise to success and forget that they have melanin in their skin. Wilson is not one of those. She authentically and unapologetically embraces her Blackness every single day – hence why “Dear Black Girls” became a New York Times-bestselling read.

And why the way in which the news was revealed was as authentic to Wilson as possible. Even down to the small details such as the apostrophe swooshes on the Nike website. 

Not to mention whoever was running socials for Nike began replying to past tweets from WNBA press corps members who were mentioning when a signature shoe would be on its way for the M’VP. 

What is particularly gratifying is the youth sneakers that will be available. Representation is extremely important in the Black community. For many young Black girls who are athletes, Wilson is one of those who they look up to – and want to emulate – as the positive role model that she is on and off court. South Carolina is also a state with one of the largest Black populations in the country – and where many of its top high school prospects are Black girls.

Many of those young Black girls may not have felt represented in the shoe market. That will change once the A’One becomes available next Spring. 

Wilson already has a laundry list of accomplishments – both on and off the court – as the Nike splash page mentioned on Saturday. Scoring records, Championships/gold medals, MVPs, bestselling author, a foundation and AAU teams in her name – you name it. Wilson has done it all and she is only entering the beginning of her prime as the planet’s premier hooper. 

This is another milestone achievement in a career and life that has been filled with milestone achievements and the format in which it was revealed to the larger public was – fittingly – A’One.

Now – we move. Next up, Reebok. 

Two words. Angel. Reese.

Photo Credit: Travis Bell/NBAE/Getty Images