Giannis’ signature shoe is finally here. After months of speculation, the 2019 MVP unveiled his Nike model, and achieved something that he “never thought would happen,” joining a very exclusive fraternity of players who have their own shoe. This list is pretty much reserved for the elite of the elite, players who are outstanding on the court and easy to market off the court. As it stands, the current roster of active players with a major (Nike, Adidas, Jordan, Under Armour) signature shoe is this:
Nike: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, Giannis Antetokounmpo
Jordan: Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul
Adidas: James Harden, Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell
Under Armour: Steph Curry
With this list in mind, it’s an interesting question to think who might be next in line to have their own shoe. An elite player that is very marketable and mostly liked by fans is the perfect formula, and three players stand out to me that could fit this mold in the next couple of years.
Joel Embiid, Sixers
Joel Embiid is, inarguably, one of the most consistent threats to go viral on a nightly basis that we have in the NBA today. Whether it be a highlight play or something he tweets during his downtime, he is one of the more recognizable and popular players in the league right now. The big man from Cameroon is very well liked also because of his comedic personality, all this added to the fact that he is one of the best players we have in the game. Embiid recently signed a deal with Under Armour that made him the highest paid player at his position, and it is easy to see Under Armour wanting him to join Steph Curry in their signature lineup. The saying goes, “big men can’t sell shoes,” when people are explaining why most signature shoes belong to guards and forwards, but not many big men have the personality that Embiid has, so if anyone can break that mold, it is him.
Luka Dončić, Mavericks
The reigning Rookie of the Year is another player who we could see have his own shoe in the next few years. He captivated basketball fans with his unique skill set at his height in his rookie year, and also would bring in a totally different market with his background and heritage in Europe. Having played professionally in Spain, and being from Slovenia originally, Dončić would attract a huge section of fans that some other players might not hit. Additionally, Dončić has shown a huge interest in shoes, exemplified by a number of custom shoes that he laced up during the year:
Given Dončić’s interest in kicks, combined with his marketability, I believe, as long as his career stays on the trajectory his rookie year set, we will see Nike add him to their elite group of signature shoes.
Zion Williamson, Pelicans
Zion Williamson is the most hyped prospect to hit the NBA since LeBron James. He had millions of followers on Instagram in high school due to his ridiculous dunks, but then he went to Duke for a year and showed his worth as a complete player with his passing, defense, and overall scoring ability. One of the most recognizable players in the league already, even before having played a game, if he lives up to his potential, it is a practical guarantee that he will have a signature shoe in no time. He has yet to sign with a shoe brand, but it is more than likely either Nike or Adidas will shell out money for his rights soon enough.
PS: If you somehow haven’t seen Zion’s high school mixtape… enjoy.