Without a doubt, Ja Morant had one of the most impressive rookie seasons in recent memory. He’s broken records, made jaw-dropping plays, and led the Memphis Grizzlies to the Western Conference’s second seed this season. He has steadily improved his game since entering the league and is well on his way to becoming a generational player in the NBA. Many of us were left breathless by his recent heroics against the three-time champions in Game 2 of the 2022 playoffs. He exploded for 47 points and could not be stopped by the warriors. I’m surprised that no brand has approached him about a signature shoe up to this point. Nike gave a shoe to Zion Williamson, who was drafted ahead of Ja in the 2019 NBA Draft, before he had even played a single game in the league. We haven’t seen Zion play in a game in a while, but Ja has proven to be a dynamic player capable of taking his team to victory. And yet, despite all of his on-court accomplishments, he currently lacks a signature shoe. This seems like a grave mystery, as he ought to have his own unique footwear to represent the strength and determination that have propelled him to the top of his game.
Ja Morant Impressive Rookie Season
While everyone’s eyes was fastened on Zion, Ja Morant had an impressive rookie season, wowing onlookers with his incredible athleticism and court vision. The young point guard out of Murray State proved to be a quick learner, showing marked improvement from month to month. He took the league by storm, averaging 18 points 7.3 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game. He was a big reason why the Memphis Grizzlies made the playoff in 2019, and his highlight reel plays became a must-see TV. Morant was named the NBA Rookie of the Year after his first season , cementing his place among the league’s top young players. Many experts believed that Morant had the potential to be a true superstar in the years to come, and he has certainly lived up to all these expectations. He is now averaging 27.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists in the 2021-2022 season. I’m mentioning all of these statistics for a reason: Ja Morant is a superstar, and any brand that signs him to a shoe deal isn’t gambling. Let’s move on to the other elements that make it all worthwhile to give him a signature shoe.
Why Ja Morant Should Have A signature shoe?
Incredible Work Ethic, Relatable
Much like other players who have achieved great success at the highest level of competition, Ja Morant has worked tirelessly from an early age to hone his skills. Growing up, he had a love for the game of basketball that was truly unmatched. He spent countless hours on his backyard court with his father, training tirelessly and perfecting everything from his ball handling to his shooting form and incredible athleticism (jumping on tractor tires). And through all this hard work, Ja never lost sight of his dream – to one day play in the NBA. His dedication and unwavering commitment paid off at every step along the way, from his standout high school career to his breakout season at Murray State University. Despite slipping through the cracks of big-time college programs, Ja continued to prove himself on the court, showcasing stunning athletic feats and compiling record-breaking stats that left everyone in awe. And it has paid off – today, Ja Morant is known by many as one of the most promising young players in all of basketball. What’s the point of saying this? When it comes to sneakers (and signature shoes in particular), one of the most important factors is the story behind them. Morant’s height of 6’3 makes him more human than the rest of his peers, which is important because he is relatable. Not only does his story serve as an example of perseverance and hard work paying off, but it also serves as a source of motivation for those who may feel underdogged in their own lives. Whether it’s on the court or off, we can all learn from Morant’s determination and dedication in achieving his goals. And, while it may sound old and cliche, nothing beats a good backstory when it comes to signature shoes- folks wanted to be Like Mike in the 90’s, and in 2022 folks want to be Like Morant.
When Ja Morant was drafted as the second overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, it was a moment of validation for smaller programs everywhere. Morant had starred for Murray State, a school with just over 10,000 students that competes in the NCAA’s mid-major Ohio Valley Conference. In contrast to the blueblood programs that typically produce top NBA prospects, Murray State is a true underdog story. And yet, Ja Morant excelled on the court, leading the Racers to an upset win over Marquette in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. In doing so, he proved that smaller programs can compete with anyone. Like Steph Curry, who also played for a smaller program in Davidson College, Morant’s story is one of hard work and determination paying off in a big way. While smaller schools may not have the same resources or level of competition as bigger programs, they can still produce talented players who go on to have successful careers in the NBA. In Morant’s case, he is proof that playing for a smaller school does not have to be a hindrance to achieving big dreams. And there you have another recipe for a great storyline: the underdog, and people love underdogs. The underdog theme continued in the NBA, as he was drafted by a smaller market team, the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies last made a splash during the era of their prolific backcourt, led by Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. They embodied the grit and grind for which Memphis is famous. However, Ja elevates the Grit and Grind concept with his on-court swagger.
Great Family Dynamic
Growing up in a tight-knit family has no doubt shaped Ja Morant into the amazing basketball player that he is today. Born in Dalzell, South Carolina to Tee and Jamie Morant, Ja was surrounded by great role models from a young age. His mother, a high school point guard and softball player in college, instilled in him a great love for the game of basketball. Meanwhile, his father was not only a great athlete himself – being an acquaintance and high school teammate of basketball great Ray Allen – but also helped to create a bond between father and son as they spent countless hours practicing together on the court. Through their shared passion for sports, Ja developed an incredible work ethic and strong family values that continue to define him today. And despite his incredible success on the court, it is clear that he will always put his family first, reminding us all that sometimes it takes a great team to become great. We live in a broken world, and the Morant family exemplifies what the Bible says about the role of the father and mother in the upbringing of a child. A shoe tells a story and can express all of these dynamics.
When it comes to NBA players, few are quite like Ja Morant. He is a unique combination of speed and power, with the agility of an elite point guard and the strength of a dominant big man. Some analysts have compared him to legends like Allen Iverson and Derrick Rose, both due to his on-court brilliance and his aggressive style of play. And while it remains to be seen whether Morant will change the face of the league in quite the same way as Steph Curry did, one thing is clear: he is a generational talent that we may not see again for many years to come.
All of the ingredients that qualify a player for a signature shoe are certainly present in Ja Morant, and it is a mystery to me why no brands, big or small, have approached him yet. Perhaps they did. But I believe his story will only fit with one brand.
Who should sign Ja Morant to a shoe deal?
Given his tremendous upside, it’s no surprise that there has been intense speculation about which brand will sign him to a shoe deal. While there are many companies who would love to have him on their roster, I believe that Under Armour is the perfect fit for Ja Morant. The company has a history of working with underdog athletes and helping them reach new levels of success. In addition, Under Armour is itself an underdog brand, which makes them a perfect match for Morant. We saw what UA was able to do with the Steph Curry line, and there’s no reason to believe that they couldn’t replicate that success with Ja Morant. As one of the most exciting young players in the NBA, Ja Morant is sure to be a game-changer for whichever brand he signs with. But given Under Armour’s track record, they seem like the perfect fit for him. UA should do everything in their power to snare Ja Morant. There is a lot of parallelism between Curry and Morant. They were both undersized guards with something to prove. They both attended smaller schools, have a strong work ethic, are natural performers on the court, and have positive family dynamics. With Ja, the possibilities for backstories are limitless. The underdog theme, endless stories, and Curry’s mind-blowing 3’s helped the Curry line become a success.
Morant is the perfect player to build a brand around. He has a unique style of play that gets people excited and he has the rare ability to transcend basketball and connect with fans on a personal level. In an era where player loyalty is increasingly rare, signing Ja Morant would allow Under Armour to tap into a new market of young, passionate fans who are looking for someone to believe in. With Morant, UA would finally have another face of the franchise that could help carry the brand into the future. While there are always risks associated with signing any player, there’s no doubt that Ja Morant is worth the gamble for Under Armour. He has all of the makings of a superstar and he has the potential to change the trajectory of the brand for years to come.
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