Ja Morant joins elite group of NBA players with signature shoe — Andscape
SAN FRANCISCO — This was the Memphis Grizzlies’ first game on Christmas Day. The road contest was also against the Grizzlies’ sworn enemies, the Golden State Warriors. And as Ja Morant took to the floor of the Chase Center ahead of the primetime whistleblower, he also stared proudly at his feet as he was put on his own signature shoe for the first time in a game.
“I felt like it really hit me right before the tip. To start the game, those are really my shoes,” Morant said after the Grizzlies’ 123-109 loss to the Warriors on Sunday.
In his fourth NBA season, Morant became the 23rd player in NBA history to receive his own signature sneaker with Nike. On Christmas morning, the Grizzlies star announced the arrival of his signature Nika Ja 1 sneakers on social media, saying, “The grind starts on day 1.” Morant said the best part about his low-top basketball shoe is that his daughter Kaari’s name is stamped on the inside half of the shoe.
Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant respectfully tweeted on Christmas that it was a “sad day knowing Ja would never join [his] KD4s again,” but added that it was great for Morant’s brand. Morant described the signature shoe honor as “a great moment.”
“It was something I had been waiting for for a while,” Morant said. “Obviously I am part of the process. But I enjoyed every moment, every step of making the shoe. People like it, they say. Great honor. Not many people have their signature shoe. I am very grateful to the Nike family.
Morant’s new signature shoe, available for purchase in April, was inevitable given his growing popularity.
On January 21, Morant ranked seventh on the NBA’s best-selling jerseys list. It was the 23-year-old’s first time reaching the Top 10 in his four-year NBA career. His scoring ability, memorable high-flying dunks, electric plays on both sides of the floor, and flair have certainly boosted his popularity. The 2022 NBA Most Improved Player was also voted as an NBA All-Star starter for the first time in his career at the 2022 NBA All-Star Game. Morant averaged 24.8 points, 7.9 assists and 6.4 rebounds during his career.
“It definitely starts with his charisma,” Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins said. “What an honor for him to have his own signature shoe. Obviously there’s a story behind it. More on how it was built, how it was created, the vision behind it, the involvement of his daughter, his family’s involvement, his journey so far, every day, every step he shares with his beloved ones.
“To be able to represent this tonight and have it come out in a few months is very special. I hope I’m on someone’s list to get a pair. He’s a special human being. is a special player. The way he plays, toughness, competitiveness, flair, confidence all lead to someone who can be very marketable. But at the end of the day, he’s a guy who wins and who wants to compete to win every day.”
Morant and the Grizzlies also renewed their heated rivalry with the Warriors over Christmas.
The Grizzlies eliminated the Warriors from the 2021 NBA playoffs in the play-in tournament. Then the Warriors eliminated the Grizzlies in the second round of the 2021 NBA playoffs.
There was a ton of trash talking along the way. More recently, Morant told ESPN’s Malika Andrews that he wasn’t worried about the Eastern Conference Boston Celtics and that the Grizzlies were doing “good in the West.”
The Warriors beat the Grizzlies in their first game this season without injured All-Star starters Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins.
“We are not worried. It’s a game. It’s not like we’ve finished the season or anything,” Morant said of the loss.