Posted on April 25, 2024

No Black WNBA Players Have a Signature Shoe. Here’s Why That’s a Gigantic Problem.

Mike Freeman, USA Today, April 22, 2024

In October of 2023, after Game 1 of the WNBA Finals, Las Vegas Aces coach Becky Hammon was asked a question: Does star player A’ja Wilson deserve her own signature shoe? Hammon’s response was one of incredulity.


Wilson is one of the greatest stars of our time. Any athlete of her caliber should already have a signature shoe. It is the order of things. In fact, it should have happened years ago. It would be like if you made signature shoes for Vulcans and you didn’t give one to Spock.


That was last year. It hasn’t happened yet. It likely will but the fact it hasn’t yet is absolutely disgraceful. But there’s something even worse occurring.

Wilson’s lack of a signature shoe is getting a fresh look because Caitlin Clark is expected to get a signature shoe in the near future. If she does, Clark would join only three other WNBA players with signature shoes: Breanna Stewart, Elena Delle Donne and Sabrina Ionescu. You may notice a pattern there.

In a majority-Black league there are currently no Black players with signature shoes.

There’ve only been 12 players in the history of the WNBA with their own signature shoe. In the past, almost every signature shoe from 1995-2011 belonged to a Black woman. The fact that only white women hold the power of the signature shoe now, as the WNBA enters its most high profile and prosperous phase, shows how Black women are being ignored in a league that they dominate.

Stardom propels shoe deals, but also, shoe contracts, like a signature shoe, drive stardom. If you believe the only reason three (and likely soon four) white women are getting the shoes because they just happen to be more marketable, well, you’re a fool.


What so much of this comes down to is a lack of respect for the Black women of the WNBA. A lack of respect for Black Americans overall isn’t something new to the marketing world. This is old hat. That doesn’t change the ugliness of it.

Everyone knows this including the white stars in the sport like Paige Bueckers from Connecticut. She addressed the problem three years ago during her acceptance speech at the ESPYS after she was named best women’s athlete.

“With the light that I have now as a white woman who leads a Black-led sport and celebrated here, I want to shed a light on Black women,” said Bueckers. “They don’t get the media coverage that they deserve. They’ve given so much to the sport, the community and society as a whole and their value is undeniable.