John Wall’s history with his signature shoes has been tumultuous.
Even before he was drafted by the Washington Wizards in 2010, Wall had signed a $25 million shoe deal with Reebok. He curated three signature shoes with the brand, each prominently displaying Reebok’s Zig technology, which was hardly aesthetically pleasing. In 2013, with Zig technology flopping and Reebok switching its focus from basketball to fitness, Wall split with the brand, moving his signature line over to adidas, Reebok’s parent company.
Adidas released two shoes with Wall’s name on them, the J Wall 1 and 2; and though both were improvements over their predecessors, nothing about them put them in the same category as the signature shows produced for Wall’s point guard counterparts, Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry—or even Russell Westbrook’s Air Jordan PEs. Lost in the shuffle, Wall’s signature shoe line seemed destined to fade into irrelevance.
Then, a shake up. In January, Wall fired his longtime agent Dan Fegan and joined forces with Rich Paul and Klutch Sports, an outfit that also represents LeBron James. With the change came pushback from Wall’s camp on a proposed extension with adidas. Eventually, negotiations fell through, and though adidas can match any offer made by another brand while the 2015-2016 season is still in progress, Wall will become a sneaker free agent for the first time this summer. His refusal to sign an extension with adidas also means he can wear any shoe on the court now, regardless of brand—something he has taken full advantage of.
In his first game after signing with Paul and splitting with adidas, Wall wore a pair of Nike LeBron 13s. Since 10 of Paul’s 11 NBA clients are Nike athletes, there’s been a lot of speculation that Wall’s next sneaker destination will be Nike. Wall’s appearance in the LeBron 13 added fuel to that fire, but his recent footwear choices have given pause to what once appeared to be a forgone conclusion.
John Wall wearing the Air Jordan XII “French Blue” at the 2016 NBA All-Star Game
Wall has been on a serious retro Air Jordan kick leading up to, during and after the All-Star break. In recent games, he’s worn both a red and black pair and a white and red pair of Air Jordan 2s on-court. At the All-Star Game, he wore the Air Jordan XII “French Blue” model, while dropping 22 points for the East squad in Toronto. He’s even been sp
otted out and about wearing the Air Jordan IV “Fire Red” and the highly sought after Air Jordan 2 “Beach,” a collab with designer Don C.
Even more curious, over All-Star Weekend Wall was spotted at Air Jordan’s pop-up shop at 306 Yonge Street in Toronto, getting a somewhat conspicuous tour of the space from a Jordan Brand rep. Add to that respected sneaker writer Nick Depaula’s posturing that there’s almost no chance Nike would give Wall his own signature shoe, and it certainly makes one wonder where Wall will end up this summer.
John Wall in a white/red Air Jordan II
“It’s entirely possible [that Wall will sign with Air Jordan], but 11 of Rich Paul’s 12 clients are Nike, and the only one who isn’t is Ben McLemore, who will be up soon and will probably make the switch,” a source told STACK. “It will be interesting to see what happens.”
Currently, the only prominent point guards on Air Jordan’s roster are Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul, and only Paul has his own signature shoe. In fact, Paul and Carmelo Anthony are the only two players in Jordan’s stable with signature kicks; and though guys like Westbrook, Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard all received PE versions of various Air Jordan sneakers, only Westbrook seems big enough to deserve his own shoe. Wall would fit in nicely with Air Jordan, and he wouldn’t be overshadowed by the talent around him. With Nike, giants like LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant anchor the basketball line, and the effort to build up Wall’s brand alongside those firmly established superstars would have to be monumental.
Chances are Wall will end up somewhere under the Nike umbrella, unless a Chinese brand or Under Armour throws a wad of cash at the Wizards point guard. Just don’t count on Air Jordan swooping in and making a big play for his services.