There was something remarkable about John Wall’s Game 1 exit, as red, white, and blue streamers fell all around him in the nation’s capital. It wasn’t Wall’s finishing stat line that stood out — though his 32 points on 50 percent shooting and 14 assists made for a career day. It was when he walked away from his postgame interview, in which Wall admitted he had “been through a lot in seven years,” that was most interesting: On his feet, he bore regular, non-signature blue Nikes. The mystery around Wall not having a signature shoe began in September 2015, when the All-Star left Adidas’s $7.5 million offer at the altar. He’s been a free agent in the sneaker market ever since, and watching his career year in points, assists, steals, and shooting accuracy vault Washington to the 4-seed makes the nameless Nikes and Jordans he plays in more odd. Peers Kyrie Irving, Steph Curry, and Damian Lillard have multiple signature shoes by now; Kristaps Porzingis, Jamal Crawford, and Mike Conley have all inked sneaker deals since Wall’s previous contract with Adidas expired. But his history with the industry began in odd fashion (and frankly, not very in fashion), and that unusual start still shapes the superstar’s pending availability today. Before Wall was picked no. 1 overall in the 2010 draft, the Kentucky one-and-done signed a five year, $25 million deal with Reebok, who outbid competitors Nike and Under Armour, (neither, of which, apparently, are all that interested in Wall as of late). It looked to be a win for Wall’s agent at the time, Dan Fegan, in comparison with what 2009’s top pick, Blake Griffin, received: a Nike deal worth $400,000. But like Wall said Sunday, it’s been a trying seven years since. The guarantee on his deal with Reebok amounted to less, paying out $2.5 million his rookie year, with the rest of the money tied up in performance incentives. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Wall even stopped wearing his own signature shoe after discomfort with the model turned to pain. Three years into the deal, John Wall left Reebok for its parent company, Adidas. (Though Reebok denied a shift away from its basketball division at the time, 14 months later the company rebranded and reoriented itself toward personal fitness). His original shoes were dropped, replaced by a new line donning three stripes down the side.
Why Doesn’t John Wall Have a Sneaker Deal?
The Ringer | Apr 19