How the Nike Sabrina 1 Aims to Be the Best Basketball Shoe — Beyond the Women’s Game

The newest member of the Nike Basketball signature family is here as New York Liberty guard and Oregon Duck legend Sabrina Ionescu and the Swoosh unveil the Nike Sabrina 1.

For Sabrina and the Nike team, the first signature shoe for the electric guard isn’t about creating the best shoe in the WNBA or the best female signature shoe. The goal of the Nike Sabrina 1 and the overall Sabrina line is about creating the best shoe for any court — not just within the women’s game.

“We want to create the basketball shoe, period,” Ionescu said. “Not women’s basketball shoe, not men’s basketball shoe, just basketball shoe. That’s going to shape what’s to come and continue to shape footwear down the line,” she added.

The Sabrina 1 is pushing the bounds of sport and performance. Not only with her becoming the latest WNBA player with a signate shoe but also with the Sabrina 1’s innovative design.

For Nike Basketball Senior Footwear Designer Ben Nethongkome and the Nike team, the Nike Sabrina 1 is dual-purposed with three key design pillars. In designing the shoe, the goal was to Increase speed and reduce fatigue for Sabrina with support, a responsive ride, and a lightweight design. 

Nike introduced a full-length React foam unit for a responsive feel and paired it with a top-loaded Zoom Air unit in the forefoot for a more explosive edge. The shoe also includes medial bands for a locked-down fit that’s still lightweight, helping Sabrina ball out on both ends of the court.

Additionally, the Nike Sabrina 1 ties back to Sabrina and her Romanian heritage with a premium embroidery pattern on the shoe’s forefoot and eyestays, a homage to traditional Romanian art and architecture.

Nike Sabrina 1
Nike Sabrina 1

“It’s a combination of the right ingredients, Nethongkome said about the design of the Sabrina 1. “We used React for the energy return. For the upper, which we typically reinforce with plastic, we used that [Romanian] heritage and crafted details to bring support, bring structure to make it uniquely hers. The combination of those two: that upper feeling malleable and the bottom feeling confutable and responsive make [the Sabrina 1] unique,” he said.

Nike Sabrina 1
Nike Sabrina 1

Alongside the tech components of the shoe, the Sabrina 1 includes her signature logo with a bold S that features an “i” that can be seen whether right-side up or upside down, a testament to her vision on the court.

Nike Sabrina 1
Nike Sabrina 1

The medial side of the Nike Sabrina 1 also includes an enlarged Swoosh meticulously placed between the midsole and upper with the end pointing toward the sky as a reflection of Sabrina’s ability to break barriers and break invisible ceilings with the Sabrina 1 being the latest example.

“Looking down and seeing my logo, there’s this sense of pride of wearing your shoe and representing that,” Ionescu said. “Working out in them, being able to feel everything that I talked about knowing that the design is different.”

Despite Sabrina’s well-known and highly-respected competitive nature, she looks forward to seeing the shoe on her opponents and beyond the court.

“The more people that I see wear them on the street, young kids, competitors, players in the NBA, whatever it is, I feel like there’ll be more of this sense of unity than competition,” she said.

“For me, it’s about the story we’re wanting to tell, continue to help dreams come true for everyone who wears the shoe and hears the story and finds some sense of confidence and belief through that,” Ionescu said. “And how we’re wanting to inspire the next generation of  Sabrinas that are starting the game that thinks they can because they see that I am.”

The Nike Sabrina 1 and accompanying apparel collection release on and select retailers this summer.

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