SAN FRANCISCO – It was the first game for the Memphis Grizzlies on Christmas Day. The away competition was also against the Grizzlies’ arch-enemies, the Golden State Warriors. And when Ja Morant stepped onto the Chase Center court before the start of prime time, he too proudly looked down at his feet as he walked. putting on his own signature shoe for the first time in a game.
“I felt like it really hit me right before the tip. To start the game, these are really my shoes,” Morant said after the Grizzlies’ 123-109 loss to the Warriors on Sunday.
In his fourth NBA season, Morant became the 23rd player in NBA history to receive his own signature Nike shoe. On Christmas morning, the Grizzlies star announced the arrival of his signature Nika Ja 1 sneakers on social media, saying, “The grind starts on the 1st.” Morant said the best part of his low top basketball shoe is that the name of his daughter Kaari is stamped on the inside half of the shoe.
Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant respectfully tweeted on Christmas that it was a “sad day knowing Ja will never mess around.” [his] KD4s again,” but added that it was great for Morant’s brand. Morant described the signature shoe honor as a “great moment.”
“It was something that I had been waiting for to happen for a while,” Morant said. “Obviously I am part of the process. But I enjoyed every part, every step in making the shoe. People like it, so they say. Great honor. Not many people have their signature shoe. I am very grateful to the Nike family.”
Morant’s new signature shoe, available to buy in April, was an inevitability considering his growing popularity.
On January 21, Morant was ranked seventh on the NBA’s best-selling jersey list. It was the first time the 23-year-old had broken into the Top 10 in his four-year NBA career. His scoring ability, memorable high-flying dunks, electric plays on both ends of the court and style have certainly increased his popularity. The 2022 NBA Most Improved Player was also voted an NBA All-Star starter for the first time in his career during the 2022 NBA All-Star Game. Morant has averaged 24.8 points, 7.9 assists and 6.4 career rebounds.
“It definitely starts with his charisma,” Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins said. “What an honor for him to have his own signature shoe. Obviously, there is a story behind it. More information will come out about how it was built, how it was created, the vision behind it, his daughter’s involvement, his family’s involvement, His journey to this point, each and every day, each and every milestones you share with your loved ones. some.
“To be able to represent this tonight and have it launch in a couple of months is very special. I hope to be on the list of someone who gets a pair. He is a special human being. He is a special player. The way he plays, the tenacity, the competitiveness, the style, the confidence, it all leads to someone who can be easily marketed. But at the end of the day, he’s a guy who wins and wants to compete to win every day.”
Morant and the Grizzlies also renewed their heated rivalry with the Warriors on Christmas.
The Grizzlies eliminated the Warriors from the 2021 NBA playoffs during the gate tournament. The Warriors then eliminated the Grizzlies in the second round of the 2021 NBA playoffs.
There’s been a lot of trash talking along the way. More recently, Morant told ESPN’s Malika Andrews that he wasn’t worried about the Eastern Conference’s Boston Celtics and that the Grizzlies were “fine in the West.”
The Warriors defeated the Grizzlies in their first meeting this season without injured All-Star starters Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins.
“We are not worried. It’s a game. It’s not like we finished the season or anything,” Morant said of the loss.