Since the WNBA started in 1997, the women’s specific basketball shoe has seen major highs and lows. Depending on what year you’re looking at, the market completely is either flux or devoid of women’s specific shoes.
Today, women’s specific versions are rare and the signature shoe dedicated to female athletes has been completely forgotten. Almost every current WNBA player wears a shoe that was originally built for the boys in a Player’s Edition colorway, but this wasn’t always the case.
During the WNBA’s inaugural 1997 season, over 50 million viewers watched the games over three networks with leading players including Sheryl Swoopes, Rebecca Lobo, Ruthie Bolton, Lisa Leslie, Cynthia Cooper, and Michele Timms, four of whom carried the industry with signature sneakers.
Nike was the first to unveil a women’s signature basketball shoe in 1996 to Sheryl Swoopes, the first player signed into the WNBA. A bevy of ladies-only basketball shoes followed with other brand giants like adidas and Reebok unveiling their own signatures (Rebecco Lobo, for example, represented the Vector). It seemed for a few years that women’s shoes were here to stay, but a look at the market today tells a different story.
Jordan Brand signed their first female athlete, Maya Moore, in 2011 but has yet to unveil a signature shoe for the Minnesota Lynx forward. With Nike’s clean sweep for this year’s WNBA draft, will we see a revival of women’s signature hoops shoes? For the record, these are The 20 Best Women’s Nike Basketball Sneakers of All Time.