Sheryl Swoopes is a woman of many firsts. Not only was the Brownfield, Texas, born Hall of Fame basketball player the first to ever sign a contract to play in the WNBA, Swoopes was also the first woman have her own signature Nike sneaker.
Her debut shoe, the Nike Air Swoopes, originally released in 1995. It made Swoopes the second athlete behind only Michael Jordan to have an eponymous Nike sneaker. Its successor, the widely adored Air Swoopes II, retros for the first time this weekend.
Designed by Marni Gerber — who also produced Swoopes’ debut model — the Nike Air Swoopes II was an aggressive maturation of the Air Swoopes proper. Now re-releasing when ’90s culture is in the midst of a renaissance, the return of Swoopes’ second signature shoe also represents women finally receiving their collective due. Sheryl understands the gravity of this moment, and has the foresight to recognize that, in essence, it’s more than just an abbreviated appreciative of women.
“It feels surreal to know that I had my own shoe,” expressed Swoopes. “I look at where the game is today, and how far we as female athletes, as women, have come — and how much work we still have to do just to be appreciated. I feel like now is such an important time for women and female athletes everywhere.”
Gerber’s design of Swoopes’ second sneaker was pivotal on its own. Its bilateral lacing system was a revelation as it allowed stellar lockdown while equally taking pressure off the player’s foot. Much of the design undoubtedly played to Swoopes attributes on the court, yet Gerber also took generously and deliberately from the famed Air More Money to ease the rollout of sophomore style.
Swoopes, outside of her well-rounded accomplishments with Nike Basketball, is one of the most decorated basketball players of all-time. When the WNBA began its first season in 1997, Swoopes and the Houston Comets won the league’s first championship. With Swoopes at the lead alongside Cynthia Cooper, the Comets rattled off three more consecutive championship seasons. They championed the leagues first four seasons, all in back-to-back fashion.
Also a three-time Olympic gold medalist in Atlanta, Sydney, and Athens, Sheryl wore her Air Swoopes II in Atlanta during a gold medal run. In 2011, Swoopes was named one of the top 15 WNBA players of all time.
Expect the return of the Nike Air Swoopes II in White/Black-Royal on August 17 at Nike SNKRS. A follow-up colorway in White/Black-Red will release on September 7.
Nike Air Swoopes II
Release Date: August 17, 2018