The shoe that Sabrina Ionescu helped create is about to make its grand debut. Ionescu is headlining Nike's new Air Zoom GT Cut, the first shoe in Nike's "Greater Than" franchise, alongside De'Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings.
“Being the headliner for the GT Cut is an honor because of how much insight I’ve been giving on the shoes they’ve been creating,” the New York Liberty star said via The Undefeated. “Also, just the learning process to figure out what I like, what helps me as a basketball player and what’s going to help other people that’re looking to find a shoe as well.”
Ionescu's feedback helped shape the shoe
Ionescu started providing feedback on the shoe when she was still at Oregon. Nike met with Ionescu and her teammates in her senior year to find out what they wanted and needed in an on-court shoe. She remembers what she told them.
“I know that a big part that I honed in on was having a shoe that was comfortable and low to the ground, but also covered all the aspects of comfort — you’re able to jump, you’re able to run and having all of that in one — and not sacrificing one for the others,” Ionescu told The Undefeated. “That was a huge thing that I had said.”
Nike executives actually showed Ionescu a prototype of the shoe when they were pitching her on signing with them last year. She told The Undefeated that seeing the shoe helped her decide to sign with Nike, and they didn't let her down. The GT Cut was designed for players who specialize in cutting and changing direction, and judging by how Nick DePaula of The Undefeated described it, Nike took some of Ionescu's recommendations.
At its core, the GT Cut’s design is tailored to the variables that floor generals value most, such as a lower court feel, protective fit and extra padding over the toes to provide more comfort on hard-stopping, step-back moves. There’s a full-length Zoom Air unit sitting under a React foam sockliner, all atop a computer-generated traction pattern optimized for screeching grip.
Signature shoe could be in the future
Ionescu is headlining the GT Cut, but it's not her signature shoe. Those are rare for women — so rare that Ionescu told The Undefeated that she's never owned a woman's signature shoe. She's owned signature shoes from Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul, and hopes that one day young players will be able to lace up a pair of Sabrinas.
“It’d be awesome,” she said about one day having a signature shoe of her own. “It’d be awesome for me to do it, or for any other player to have that platform, and have little girls showing up to basketball practice wearing a woman’s shoe for once, and not wearing a men’s shoe. It’ll be really cool if I get that opportunity, and I’m going to just keep my head down and keep working.”
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