Maybe it is in the shoes.
The Rise Of Ja Morant
Since entering the league in 2019 as a Round 1, No. 2 pick for the Memphis Grizzlies, Ja Morant has been a force to be reckoned with.
From his bunny-like hops to his full-speed ballhandling skills, the young NBA superstar has quickly become a fan favorite and he’s now Nike’s first Gen-Z athlete, with amazing kicks to match.
His First Signature Shoe
On Christmas morning, the Grizzlies star announced that his Nike Ja 1 sneakers have officially arrived.
The moment included an ad that featured his daughter, Kaari, who is a part of the shoe as her name is stamped on its inner half.
“I dreamed for something to remember for a lifetime,” said Morant during an event to commemorate the shoe announcement.
Although the sneakers won’t officially hit stores until April 2023, Morant has been able to gift a few of his young fans with pairs following various games, which he admits is a huge moment for him.
“It’s something that not everybody gets so I know it’s special to them,” Morant continued. “It’s definitely special seeing them, you know, cry or have on my jersey and how they react to being able to get a pair of my shoes is big time. And as much as they appreciate and they love it. I do as well.”
The Technology Behind The Shoes
While the Ja 1s look like your ordinary fashionable sneakers, they are way more than meets the eye.
There is a technology within the shoe that not only enhances Ja’s performance on the court but will do the same for anyone who gets their hands on a pair.
“We primarily focus on the needs of Ja and what he needs, what he wants,” Ben Nethongkome, Nike Senior Designer, Footwear Performance Basketball, told AfroTech in an exclusive interview. “We’re leveraging a zoom bag that’s placed right below the bottom of the feet to keep them feeling bouncy and keep his vertical leap explosive. At this price point, I would consider it as a premium technology that we’re not offering very much in other places.”
The Intentional Design
And while the technology is one thing, there are even more sentimental Easter eggs within the shoe that give a nod to Morant’s upbringing.
Additionally, the shoe’s color scheme is intentional as the unique blue shade is a nod to blue-collar workers.
“It was something that was more rooted within Ja,” said Nike Global Vice President of Men’s Basketball, Scott Munson. “He wasn’t the top prospect athlete that was gonna be the next superstar. It was just the hard work and dedication that he put into developing his game that essentially shines the most. We wanted to highlight that.”