Getting a Nike signature line is a clear sign that an athlete has “made it.” Every generation, there are only a select few athletes who receive a Nike basketball signature shoe, putting anyone who gets one in elite company. Nike’s current lineup of signature athletes consists of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Paul George. Although this is already a star-studded list, it is missing one name: Anthony Davis.
The age-old basketball adage is that a big man’s sneaker won’t sell. Although this has remained fairly true throughout history, Davis is not the common big man. Even if he was, the game has evolved to favor guardlike big men, which is what Davis embodies. Furthermore, Nike has solid evidence that a big man’s signature sneaker can sell — just look at Antetokounmpo. Nike Executive Chair Mark Parker said Antetokounmpo’s signature sneaker release was the bestselling sneaker launch in Nike history. This is extremely impressive, considering that Antetokounmpo is only at the ripe age of 25 and hasn’t even won a championship.
Every Nike athlete has a nickname, and just like how Antetokounmpo is known as the “Greek Freak,” Davis has a catchy moniker of his own: “The Brow.”
Another argument against giving Davis a signature sneaker is that kids can’t relate to him because not everyone has a 6’11” athletic body. But this argument is flawed because if this was the case, James, Durant and basically every other Nike signature athlete should have never gotten their own shoe lines.
Davis’ market is another perceived reason he does not have a signature sneaker — although he is in Los Angeles now, he spent his first seven seasons in New Orleans. New Orleans is a small market, but this argument also does not hold, as every current Nike signature athlete received their first signature shoe in a small market: James in Cleveland, Durant in Oklahoma City, Irving in Cleveland, George in Indianapolis and Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee.
Throughout his career, Davis has received player-exclusive, or PE, colorways of Nike basketball models; PEs essentially slap a player’s name or logo on a preexisting shoe model. This tier is usually reserved for quality role players or second-tier stars. For example, Draymond Green received PEs back in 2016 for the Nike Zoom HyperRev, and recently, P.J. Tucker received a Kobe 5 PE. While Tucker and Green are solid players, it is odd to see Davis still in this category of players when in reality, he is in another stratosphere, in terms of both marketing and talent.
When comparing Davis to Nike’s current signature athletes, it is absurd that he does not have a signature sneaker. The most questionable Nike signature athletes would be George and Irving. Although both are excellent players, it is tough to say that they’re better than Davis.
When compared to Irving, Davis has averaged more points, rebounds and blocks throughout his career. Furthermore, Davis has more All-Star appearances than Irving, has been on double the number of All-NBA teams and has made an All-Defensive team four times compared to Irving’s zero. Notably, Irving has Davis beat with one championship ring, but the odds are heavily favored for Davis to capture his first title this season.
George has always been a great two-way player, but again, it is questionable at best to say that he is more deserving of a signature sneaker than Davis is. Like Irving, George has averaged fewer points, rebounds and blocks than Davis has throughout his career. Although George and Davis have similar career accolades, a closer glance shows that Davis’ are more impressive. For example, George has made one more All-NBA team than Davis has, but four out of George’s five All-NBA team selections were to the third team, while all four of Davis’ were to the first team. Furthermore, Davis is simply the better postseason player. As of Sept. 30, Davis has averaged 30.23 points and 11.23 rebounds and shot 54.23% from the field per game in his career playoffs, and he is well on his way to winning his first title in a tough Western Conference. Meanwhile, when taking George’s three most recent playoff appearances, he has put up 24.7 points per game on 41.4% shooting and has not made it past the second round of the playoffs, even when playing with great supporting casts, a two-time Finals MVP or a league MVP.
Davis’ marketability and talent have proven that he exceeds the criteria of being a signature athlete. It’s time Nike treats him like one.
Justin Kim writes for Bear Bytes, the Daily Californian’s sports blog. Contact him at