Finding the perfect basketball shoe is about more than just picking which one looks the coolest. It’s about finding a shoe that’s tailored for your game. Whether you’re a shifty guard who requires a lot of grip for cutting and exploding or you’re a bruising big who needs more stability and support there’s a shoe out there that’s perfect for you. Eastbay recently sat down some of the top athletes in the WNBA to discuss a variety of topics including what shoes they wear on the court and why they feel those shoes go best with their style of play.
Sue Bird And The Kyrie 4
Sue Bird continues to put on a show every night even at the age of 38. A three-time champion who is the all-time leader in assists, Bird is a living legend. Her ability to manipulate defenders with a series of hesitations and ball fakes is similar to her friend Kyrie Irving. The two became friends during a Team USA autograph session, and when Irving discovered Bird was wearing his shoes on the court, he went to Nike and told them to give her whatever she wanted. Bird said, “I’m just a huge fan and a subscriber to look good, feel good, play good. Whenever I put on the Kyries, that’s how I feel.”
While the shoes are stylish they’re also designed for Bird’s style of play. She needs a shoe that has incredible grip so she can accelerate and cut without any fear of slipping. “There’s so much start and stop that’s part of my game, so the shoe fits my style in that regard,” she said. The Kyrie 4’s outsole has a zigzag cutout along the bottom that enhances traction while still allowing for flexibility. Under the heel, there’s Nike Zoom Air cushioning to help provide a responsive feel with every move. “They’re obviously made for somebody who’s out there doing spin moves, going left, going right over here over there.” Wrapped around the midfoot of the shoe, Flywire cables provide support for quick cuts and tough drives. All these features allow Bird to focus on the things that make her incredible without worrying about whether her shoe will hold up.
Bird compares herself to a tornado on the court. “My game is the type where I’m trying to help my teammates out by being the leader on the floor and trying to organize things,” she said “As it pertains to attacking the other team, I think before you know it, things are happening around you and you’re spinning around and suddenly we’ve scored.” This up-tempo style of play that encourages attacking early in the shot clock, constant movement, and pinging the ball around the court suits Bird’s style of play, and the Kyries help maximize her game so she is consistently at her absolute peak.
In addition to excellent performance, the 4’s also feature several spectacular colorways that draw inspiration from previous decades, paying homage to the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. You can check out these styles and more at Eastbay.
Diana Taurasi And The LeBron 16
There is no more accomplished player in the WNBA than Diana Taurasi. An MVP with three championships, four Olympic gold medals, nine All-Star appearances, and nine All-WNBA selections, she is a force on the court. In order to stay on top of her game, Taurasi competes in another GOAT’s signature shoe: the LeBrons.
Taurasi signed with Nike coming out of college and has been an avid supporter of the LeBron 10, which she says is her favorite pair ever made. Taurasi competed in the 10s for about five years before stepping into the LeBron 15s this past season. When talking about the Lebron series Taurasi said, “I think they have suited the way I play the most, you know for one I like to wear a basketball shoe that is comfortable, that’s got some girth to it.”
Taurasi is known as one of the fiercest competitors in all of basketball, a gunslinger from three who hits 38% on over eight attempts per game, who also has the ability to get into the lane, draw contact, and still finish. “I think LeBron’s shoes always symbolized the way he plays, going downhill, very powerful. Those are things I try to bring to the court too, so it’s kind of mirrored the way I play.” The recently released LeBron 16s have combine Max Air and Zoom Air in order to help absorb impact from tough landings while staying flexible. It’s also made with Flyknit material which means it’s lightweight, ultra-strong, and provides excellent support.
Having played in Phoenix her entire career, Taurasi compares herself to a sandstorm. During the season, she loves to “sweep into a city, cause some havoc, and get on out.” This take-no-prisoners mentality is what has allowed her to dominate the league as long as she has. It’s a competitive spirit that has been recognized by The King himself who sent her multiple colorways of the 15’s including the Metallic Gold and Graffiti styles. Right now, the Multicolor and Fresh Bred colorways for the LeBron 16 are available at Eastbay so you too can become a force on the court.
Breanna Stewart And The KD 11
Breanna Stewart has dominated the hardwood at every level. In high school, she was a McDonald’s All-American and the Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year. At the University of Connecticut (UConn) she was a four-time National Champion, three-time Naismith College Player of the Year, and finished as the all-time leader in blocks in UConn history. She left UConn as one of the greatest players in program history, which, given the players that have come before her, is an incredible accomplishment. In just three seasons in the WNBA she’s already a two-time All-Star, MVP, and Champion.
Her game is defined by her versatility. She’s a forward who has the ability to dominate in the post with a litany of moves, step out and knock down the long ball, and take her defender off the dribble. That’s why Stewart compares herself to a tsunami hitting the court. “I’m dangerous on offense,” she said. “I’m powerful, and I wipe out every defense I’m up against.” There is perhaps no other player who can impose their will as well as she can. It’s impossible to stop her. Smaller defenders don’t have the strength to handle her down low and have no hope of blocking her shot, while bigger players are often too slow to keep up with her on the perimeter. She has drawn comparisons to another versatile forward in the NBA, Kevin Durant. Both players can impact the game from anywhere on the floor, and both wear the KD 11s.
“I think the KD 11s fit me because KD’s style of play is similar to mine. It’s a comfortable shoe, very compact, light, and I think it’s his best one yet,” Stewart said. The KD 11 has Flyknit material that covers your foot for flexibility and incredible support, while still allowing your foot to breathe. A rubber sole extends up the sides of the shoe to provide stability as you move and cut. Nike React foam and Zoom Air provide responsive cushioning, allowing you to explode into the air.
The KD 11 is the ideal shoe for players who prefer to rock a low-cut on the court, and features a unique style that you can check out at Eastbay.
Jewell Loyd And The Kobe AD
Jewell Loyd only knows how to play basketball one way: attacking full throttle. Never stopping until the whistle blows. It’s the same mentality that has pushed her from the small town of Lincolnwood, Illinois to starring for Notre Dame, to being the No.1 overall draft for Seattle where she averaged 16 points and 5 rebounds per game to help secure a third championship for the franchise. Her willingness to attack the rim and take tough shots is what turned her into a star.
Loyd likes to think of herself as an earthquake because, “When I enter the game, I have a tendency to shake things up and keep opponents on their heels.” With a penchant for taking and making tough shots – fadeaways, stepbacks, and stepthroughs – she is the ultimate game changer. Those shots leave defenders shook because they quickly realize that even their best defense is no match for Loyd. Watching her work magic from the mid-range is reminiscent of another star and the inspiration behind her shoe choice: Kobe.
Loyd has always worn the Kobe series. “The whole concept of the lower-cut shoe, how it completely grips your foot giving you complete control. The pattern on the bottom, the way you cut and shoot, it feels like the shoe is part of your foot,” she said. This mix of comfort and grip is vital for Loyd to play her game. As she blows by defenders weaving her way into the lane, Loyd knows her shoes won’t let her down. “The grip is phenomenal and it’s super light.” The Kobe AD has a micro-blade outsole pattern allowing Loyd to explode in any direction without slipping. It also features a hidden lacing system that lets you to lock in by simply pulling a cord.
The Kobe AD features some of the brightest colorways of any shoe with its fluorescent purples, greens, and yellows. Those and others are available at Eastbay.
Elena Delle Donne And The Hyperdunk X
Elena Delle Donne has overcome a lot in her career to make it to this point. She’s weathered multiple injuries and has been fighting an ongoing battle with Lyme disease since she was a sophomore at University of Delaware. Her incredible perseverance and belief in herself is the reason she has become the superstar she is. After playing volleyball her freshman year, she switched to basketball and became a force, eclipsing 2,000 career points and helping Delaware advance to the Elite Eight her senior year. She was drafted No. 2 overall, helped lead Chicago and Washington to the Finals, and was an MVP in 2015.
Delle Donne describes her game as being like a hurricane. “Hurricanes might bring a ton of wind, a ton of rain, a lot of force, or all three,” she said. “They’re versatile, and you really never know what you’re going to get.” It’s pretty clear that defenders never know what they’re getting with her either. One minute she’s pulling down a rebound and going coast to coast for a layup, the next she’s pulling up off the dribble for three, or she’s posting up picking out open shooters or taking it herself. Her ability to do whatever she wants on the court has turned her into an offensive wrecking crew capable of tearing through defenses in any way she wants.
When deciding which shoe she wants to wear, Delle Donne takes several factors into consideration. “I definitely look for it to fit like a glove. I want it to be light, and then grip. It’s super important.” Delle Donne is a modern day point forward who can comfortably run the break, shut down opposing guards, and knock down shots from anywhere on the floor. Having a shoe that doesn’t weigh her down and allows her to cut smoothly is a must.
One shoe that fits this mold is the Nike Hyperdunk X which just celebrated its 10th anniversary. You can find a plethora of Hyperdunks both mid- and low-cut at Eastbay.