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Penny Hardaway describes Ja Morant’s new signature shoe -“That shoe can withstand all the pressure that he puts into it.”

By Shane Garry Acedera,

6 days ago

Ja Morant is the 23rd NBA player to get a signature shoe from Nike

© Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports/© Chris Day/The Commercial Appeal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Ja Morant unveiled his first signature shoe with Nike during the Memphis Grizzlies' first-ever Christmas Day game in 2022. Morant became the 23rd player in NBA history to have his own signature shoe with Nike.

A couple of days after Ja wore the "Ja 1" in an actual NBA game, Memphis Tigers head coach Anfernee Penny Hardaway was asked about Morant's first signature shoe, and this was what Penny said:

" I like the shoe. I'm a Nike guy through and through. And to see that he had a low top, everything is low tops these days for most guys. We weren't really into the low tops, but that's a nice sleek shoe. It fits his game. You know I know how they think with the elite guard with speed, with quickness, with agility, and athleticism, and that shoe can withstand everything that he puts all the pressure that he puts into it. When you go through the designs, they're thinking about all of that. And when I saw that shoe, I thinkin' that I'm on a different level because I have my own ."

Morant signed with Nike before the 2019 NBA Draft, where he was drafted 2nd overall by Memphis. But signature shoe design and development usually take 18-24 months to complete, so that's why his "Ja 1" didn't debut until last Christmas.

The "Ja 1"

Considering that the last three NBA players whom Nike made a signature basketball shoe for were Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul George, and Kyrie Irving, the shoe giant must think and value Morant very highly.

The brand even went on to say that Morant is "Nike Basketball's first Gen Z signature athlete" and recently featured the Grizzlies' guard in its 50th-anniversary campaign while looking toward the company's future. Morant signed with Nike before the 2019 NBA Draft when he was drafted 2nd overall by Memphis.

The Ja1 features a low-top silhouette, with a mesh and leather upper and a reinforced support panel along the forefoot. Morant's logo, "JA" is found on the shoe's tongue tab. Its stylized font is placed above a chevron to represent Ja's rise from an overlooked player from South Carolina to one of the best guards in the NBA.

The shoe has been targeted for an April 2023 release at $110. However, there were speculations regarding Ja Morant's deal with Nike after he got into trouble with the league.

Nike stands beside Morant

The NBA recently suspended Morant for 8 games for 'conduct detrimental to the league' for an incident where he showed off a gun during an IG Live broadcast. Ja has since gone to counseling and is eligible to return to the Grizzlies on Monday.

As for the Ja 1, Nike dropped Kyrie Irving last December and canceled an upcoming shoe release after the Mavericks guard got embroiled in an antisemitism controversy. For now, however, Nike looks like it's sticking with Ja.

" We appreciate Ja's accountability and that he is taking the time to get the help he needs. We support the prioritization of his well-being ," Nike's statement read.

Going back to Penny Hardaway , he said that the Ja 1 could withstand the pressure that Morant puts into the shoe. But it remains to be seen if Ja himself can survive the pressure of being an NBA star.

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