Breanna Stewart leaves Nike for Puma with first women's signature shoe in a decade underway

Breanna Stewart will be the first WNBA player with her own signature shoe in the last decade, and only the 10th overall, after leaving Nike to sign with Puma. The announcement was a coordinated release with Puma and various other outlets on Wednesday morning.

Stewart is experiencing another historic stretch of women's basketball championships and awards after coming back from an Achilles injury in April of 2019. Her Seattle Storm will begin its title defense when the WNBA tips off its 25th anniversary season beginning Friday night.

"For Puma to kind of be able to put the signature element out there, respect me enough where they think that I deserve a signature shoe, is something that's super exciting," Stewart told Nick DePaula of The Boardroom and ESPN.

"Hopefully we can make a really dope shoe that a lot of people will like: male, female, young, old, basketball, non-basketball type of thing. I'm just really excited to get the respect that women's basketball deserves and bring that to a whole 'nother level."

Stewart's shoe still 12-18 months out

The basketball world has been waiting for the next women's signature shoe. Though fairly common on the NBA side with 18 men's players currently with a signature shoe, only nine players in the W's 25-year history have had one.

Stewart will be the first women's basketball player to have her own signature basketball shoe made from scratch since Candace Parker's signature TS Ace Commander by adidas in 2010. Stewart will be involved in the design, colors, messaging and naming, The Ringer and ESPN reported.

Puma has just started the process, which takes in total around 12-18 months.

"[It is] definitely going to be a low top," she said, via ESPN. "Going to have cushion for the Achilles, and all the people in the Achilles family. Then, I was thinking, 'Oh, maybe I can make it eco-friendly.' ... It's going to be exciting. I think that cool colorways are definitely going to come. Something where you can rock it on and off the court."

Puma Hoops relaunched in 2018 after nearly two decades away from basketball. It's a smart and splashy move for the company as more get involved in the sport. The move is another hit to Nike, which has watched multiple stars leave in the past weeks.

WNBA champ a perfect fit for signature shoe

Stewart is ascending to GOAT status in only four professional seasons. She will begin her fifth WNBA season on Saturday when the reigning champion Storm face the Las Vegas Aces in a WNBA Final rematch.

The 26-year-old was named the Finals MVP in that three-game series and added two titles and two finals MVP awards while with UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia this past month. It bears repeating she did all of it coming off of an Achilles tear, and placed second in 2020 league MVP voting behind A'ja Wilson.

She won the 2018 title, finals MVP and WNBA league MVP in 2018. In her first season, she was named Rookie of the Year and made her first all-WNBA team and all-defensive team. She's a four-time NCAA champion at UConn.

Stewart was spotted in Puma shoes during practices last week and was asked about the switch to Puma by B. Terrell during Storm media day on Sunday. Stewart, after giving a classic smile, laugh and eyebrow raise, said she would keep fans posted "very soon."

Stewart joins WNBA icons in shoe game

Stewart is the 10th women's basketball player to work on her own signature shoe. The first was Sheryl Swoopes with the iconic Air Swoopes by Nike ahead of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Dawn Staley, Lisa Leslie and Cynthia Cooper followed with Nike. Rebecca Lobo had one with Reebok and Nikki McCray had one with Fila.

The next generation of WNBA talents received fewer opportunities. Chamique Holdsclaw and Diana Taurasi each received signature shoes by Nike. Parker's came in 2010 and there hasn't been one since, despite the game's growth.

Companies have come close in recent years. When Converse signed Mystics champion Natasha Cloud as its first women's basketball player, there were rumblings of a signature shoe on its way. New York Liberty super-rookie Sabrina Ionescu helped create a shoe with Nike, but it isn't her signature. There are hopes that's on the way.

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