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WNBA rookie All-Star Aliyah Boston: ‘I absolutely want my own shoe one day’

The No. 1 2023 pick started her pro career with Adidas despite having an name, likeness and image deal with Under Armour in college

It was no surprise when the Indiana Fever selected University of South Carolina star forward Aliyah Boston as the No. 1 overall pick of the 2023 WNBA draft in April.

Yet, when Boston arrived in Indianapolis less than two weeks later, she shocked the women’s basketball world with the logo stitched on her backpack, gym bag and sneakers. The 2022 Naismith Player of the Year stepped off the plane dressed head to toe in Adidas.

In early May, Boston inked a multiyear endorsement deal with Adidas after spending four years wearing Under Armour at South Carolina, where in 2022, she became the first player to sign a name, image and likeness deal with Under Armour. By signing with Adidas, Boston joined the brand’s loaded roster of WNBA athletes, including Candace Parker, Chelsea Gray, Kahleah Copper, Erica Wheeler, and Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike.

The Fever forward began her debut pro campaign lacing up a vibrant green colorway of the Adidas Exhibit Select model, which was launched in late June as the brand’s premier women’s basketball performance sneaker.

Through her first 20 WNBA games, Boston averaged 15.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.3 assists en route to becoming the eighth rookie in the league’s 27-year history to be named a starter in the All-Star Game.

During last week’s 2023 WNBA All-Star festivities in Las Vegas, Boston spoke with Andscape about joining Adidas, her biggest sneaker superstition and the goal to earn her own signature shoe.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Aliyah Boston attends the Adidas Exhibit Select community event held in Las Vegas during the 2023 WNBA All-Star Weekend.

Oscar Castillo/Adidas Basketball

You shocked a lot of people by signing with Adidas after four years of wearing Under Armour at South Carolina.  What factored into your decision to start your WNBA career in three stripes? 

The brand does a great job of uplifting the younger basketball community. Because being a young girl in this sport, you’ve gotta have people to look up to. That’s definitely what Adidas is about. That’s what I’m about, being a role model for young girls.

Describe the process of deciding which brand to join.

Adidas gave a formal presentation to me and my family. It was very engaging from the moment it began. Then, afterward, my family and I had a deep discussion about everything. What Adidas showed us just looked and felt like things my family and I valued. And Adidas has followed through on what they pitched. 

What specifically did you want out of your rookie sneaker deal?

I just wanted a brand that would allow and help me be the best version of myself while I’m personally doing my part to grow the game of women’s basketball. I also wanted to give back to my community through my sneaker partnership, which Adidas has committed to helping me do.

You kept the decision close to your vest. But when you got to Indiana after the draft, you walked off the plane with an Adidas bag. Was that your way of teasing your deal?

That first day in Indiana, yeah, I had Adidas gear on. But I actually hadn’t decided yet at that point. I was just trying on Adidas gear to make sure I loved it. But my family and I took our time. We were waiting until the time was right to make an official decision.

You joined an elite company of WNBA players at Adidas, from Candace Parker to Chelsea Gray and Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike. Were you at all hesitant to partner with a company that already has so many stars?

You could look at it as overwhelming. But Adidas is building its brand with a certain caliber of players that I fit into. I felt that it’d be supercool to be surrounded by such high-level players.

Aliyah Boston of Team Wilson wears the Adidas x Candace Parker Collection: Part III “Game Royalty” Exhibit Select sneakers during the 2023 WNBA All-Star Game on July 15 in Las Vegas.

Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

Did any of them reach out to help sway you to sign with Adidas?

Not during the process, because I was trying to keep my decision under wraps. But once my deal was officially announced, all of them personally reached out to me. 

What do you need out of your footwear?

My biggest thing is my feet have to be comfortable. I wear a size 12, and in the past I’ve had to wear inserts inside my sneakers. My feet would hurt if I didn’t. But with my Adidas shoes, I haven’t put inserts in them at all this season. I think that’s pretty special. Being comfortable when you’re doing what you love is undervalued but necessary.

Do you have any superstitions surrounding sneakers?

I’m not a big sneaker changer. I don’t like wearing a new pair of shoes every other game. That’s not me. I keep pairs of sneakers for longer periods, like a quarter of the year or half the season, before I change to a new pair. I’ve worn the same colorway of the Adidas Select for the entire first half of the season. It wasn’t until All-Star that I figured I’d change my shoes to the colorway honoring Candace. That’s just me. I’ve just always been that way. I never want to overdo things with my feet.

Aliyah Boston visits local girls during the Adidas Exhibit Select community event held in Las Vegas during the 2023 WNBA All-Star Weekend.

Oscar Castillo/Adidas Basketball

What’s special about the Adidas Exhibit Select?

It’s honestly just very important to have a shoe designed specifically for women. We deserve to be comfortable doing what we love.

Only 12 women in the history of the WNBA have received their own signature shoe. One of them was your college coach, Dawn Staley. Did you lean on her for advice when deciding where to sign?

I mentioned to her that I was going through the process of picking a sneaker company. I told her I was leaning toward Adidas, and she loved the idea.

Is your goal to one day lace up your own shoe on a WNBA court? How would you make the case for why you should have your own shoe?

I absolutely want my own shoe one day. I’ve always been somebody who waits their turn for certain things to come. But I already know that I want the opportunity to wear my own signature shoe on the court at some point. Until then, I’ll let the way I hoop do most of the talking.

Aaron Dodson is a sports and culture writer at Andscape. He primarily writes on sneakers/apparel and hosts the platform’s Sneaker Box video series. During Michael Jordan’s two seasons playing for the Washington Wizards in the early 2000s, the “Flint” Air Jordan 9s sparked his passion for kicks.