Two things can be true – A’ja Wilson is marketable and so is Caitlin Clark

Photo Credit: Lamar Carter

Something told us that there would be a hotly contested debate on who is currently the face of women’s basketball this WNBA season. We did not expect that debate would take on new meaning with the season tipping off only a few weeks away. 

A few days ago, that is exactly what happened when Shams Charania at The Athletic broke a massive story regarding a deal between Nike and Caitlin Clark. 

According to Charania, the deal is reportedly for eight figures – and includes Clark getting her own signature shoe. 

On the surface, it sounds exactly like the sort of deal one would expect a Caitlin Clark – given all the hoop-la that has surrounded her the last couple of years to garner. Except for one thing. 

Nike also has another noteworthy women’s hooper among its ranks. 




The WNBA fanbase has been pushing Nike to bestow a signature sneaker for A’ja Wilson for years. The idea of Clark automatically getting a signature pair of kicks despite having even played her first WNBA game yet Wilson already establishing herself as the best women’s player on the planet certainly rubbed plenty of fans – especially those of the Las Vegas Aces and South Carolina – the wrong way. 

By the way – no one is upset at Clark for securing a massive bag from the Swoosh. Clark more than deserves the money that Phil Knight and company are planning to throw in her direction. She is a great player in her own right and is responsible for a great deal of the upward trajectory of women’s basketball in North America. 

But we knew Charania’s tweet would have the whole of basketball Twitter set ablaze. Some individuals then went as far as to say that Clark is more “marketable” than Wilson. 

Firstly – how can one claim to be a basketball fan if they do not know who Wilson is. Also – anyone who claims Wilson is not marketable is the reason as to why there is such a discussion as to why people do not see Black women as marketable. 

Wilson has won championships at the high school, college, professional and international levels of basketball. She has done multiple endorsement deals – including one with Ruffles. She was in a music video with Saweetie. She recently completed a book tour for “Dear Black Girls” which became a New York Times bestseller. 

And we remember vividly because we were at that book event in northeast Columbia. The room was full of fans that wanted to hear her and Allisha Gray speak about what inspired that book. Not to mention anyone who has had the chance to listen to Wilson speak can certainly understand that has a very great personality. 

Oh – and she delivers big on the court too. 

Again…no one is denying the current off-the-charts marketability of a Clark. We understand that there is still a newness to her and humans by nature love to latch onto anything perceived as new or fresh. That is part of the intrigue as it pertains to her and she is more than deserving of the coins she has amassed. 

But a big reason for that marketability is because of the media machine that is behind her. Can one imagine if Wilson had that same media machine behind her when she was playing at South Carolina? Can one imagine if NIL was a thing when she played at South Carolina? 

Also – it must be said that out of current WNBA players only three have signature shoes Clark, Sabrina Ionescu (also Nike) and Breanna Stewart (currently Puma, previously Nike). All white women. 

This is nothing new for Wilson. She has continuously overcome obstacles on her journey to greatness and she even expressed at the Columbia event for her book how her getting passed over for Stewie’s MVP award had her feeling down because she felt she had a better season in 2023 than when she won MVP. 

And while much of WNBA Twitter was ready to give Nike the business, Wilson was tweeting Bible verses. This is why she is so much better than the rest of us. 

And it is time for the growing business around women’s basketball to be better as well. Yes, we want Clark to get her flowers as the game becomes mainstream. But what we also want is an acknowledgement that the heart and soul of the game is Black women like Wilson, Jewell Loyd (also Nike), Aliyah Boston (Clark’s Fever teammate who is an Adidas athlete) and others. 

And Clark herself understands this. She has mentioned how Maya Moore was the reason why she even decided to pick up a basketball. And while her introductory Indiana Fever press conference was overshadowed for that cringeworthy moment with that Indianapolis Star columnist, she also gave flowers to Tamika Catchings for her significance to the franchise. 

If Clark – who seemingly every company within the sports sphere wants a piece of – can understand the significance of Black women to basketball history, why can’t those same companies? This is something we will be watching as the game continues to become more mainstream because as significant as Black women are to basketball history, those same Black women deserve to reap more of the rewards.