Breanna Stewart is one of the greatest and most influential athletes the WNBA has ever seen.
With that distinction, the Seattle Storm superstar has used her platform to pave a path toward equality in the basketball world.
Last May, Stewart signed a deal with PUMA and became the first female athlete in the brand's history to land her own signature shoe. With this agreement, the two-time WNBA champion and 2018 league MVP became just the 10th woman to get a signature shoe deal with any brand -- and the first since Candace Parker did so with Adidas more than 10 years ago.
In this Q&A, Stewart discusses what this accomplishment means to her and other athletes around the women's basketball world. She also answers questions about her current injury recovery, recent free agency process, expectations for the Storm and her new partnership with eBay's Trailblazers Collection.
The Spun: Having a signature shoe is something most athletes can only dream of. What does that accomplishment mean to you and where does it rank among your most treasured career accomplishments?
Breanna Stewart: To be able to have a signature show and to be able to be the 10th WNBA player to have a signature shoe – and I think the first in over 10 years – it’s something that’s really exciting. I think it’s something that’s going to spark change and hopefully create a lot more signature shoes coming up in the very near future.
I’ve always been the kid who’s on the Foot Locker app trying to get the sneakers, and now to have my own signature shoe, there’s a lot of work that’s been put into it. A lot going into the story, and I just can’t wait for them to be released. Hopefully everybody likes them.
The Spun: So you would consider yourself a sneakerhead long before this opportunity came along?
BS: Yeah, I’ve definitely been a sneakerhead. I’ve got a lot of PUMAs at home. A lot of new kicks in my collection. It just makes packing really difficult because you can only decide on a few.”
The Spun: Even smaller than the select group of elite athletes with signature shoes are female athletes with signature shoes. How big of a step is this toward equality in the sport and what more would you like to see done?
BS: To have a signature shoe in the women’s space is obviously a huge step for us. Sheryl Swoopes' -- “Air Swoopes” -- is also on the Trailblazers Collection. It’s just kinda a throwback and where we really started in the signature shoe world. I just hope that there’s gonna be a lot of young kids – boys and girls – who want to wear the 'Stewie 1s.'
It’s something that’s obviously long overdue, but it’s going to force a lot of people to continue to be better, spark some change and get some more signature athletes in the WNBA.
The Spun: You’ve worn shoes in the past that have powerful messages behind them. Is there any message you want to get across with your signature shoe?
BS: The biggest message that I want to portray with the Stewie 1s is that it’s a shoe for anyone. Anyone can wear it, female or male. But with that being said, when you go on the sneaker website, you always see all the shoes in men’s sizes. With my shoe, you’re going to see it in women’s sizes. The guys are gonna have to do the calculation and things like that.
It’s a shoe that can be worn by anybody. It’s a very fluid shoe is what I’m trying to say.
The Spun: Injuries have been an unfortunate part of your last couple seasons. Will the design of your shoe do anything to support your specific type of injury issues?
BS: I think so. PUMA has done a great job of continuing to make sure that the shoe is perfect for me, comfortable for me. Obviously having Achilles surgeries done on both sides, the biggest thing is the cushion on the back so nothing nothing is rubbing my scars the wrong way.
The Spun: How’s your recovery process going?
BS: Recovery is going great. I’m basically clear to start ramping up and get back into the swing of things – so I’ll be ready for training camp.
The Spun: You recently made your commitment to return to the Storm for this coming season. What went into that free agency process?
BS: The free agency process was something that I haven’t experienced before. It was a little bit thrilling, a little bit exciting to take a meeting with New York [Liberty] and see how that franchise does things compared to the Storm. It was a great opportunity to continue to network and meet new people across the WNBA.
The Spun: How would you compare this year’s free agency process to your days as a highly-touted recruit out of high school?
BS: My meeting during free agency was a lot more professional than what it was like when I was a sophomore, junior in high school. I think the biggest thing now is, it’s not only on-the-court topics, but it’s what’s happening off the court. That’s actually the biggest drive for making you want to go places in the WNBA.
Topics that the teams stand for, social justice issues and organizations that proceeds are going to. It’s something that really has sparked even more since the bubble and now the WNBA is continuing to lead by example.
The Spun: What are your expectations for the Storm this coming season?
BS: My expectations with the Storm are really high. It’s going to be interesting. We have a lot of returning pieces, a lot of new pieces. I think the additions of Briann January and Gabby Williams are going to continue to give us a tenacity on both ends that we need.
But if I’m completely honest, I’m most excited about returning to Climate Pledge [Arena], being back in the heart of Seattle and hopefully having fans follow us there.
The Spun: What does it mean to you to be a part of eBays new Trailblazers collection?
BS: To be a part of eBay's Trailblazers Collection is something that's obviously amazing, especially during National Women's Month. To continue to highlight women who design sneakers to be worn by and for women is something really great. To be collaborating with [shoe designer] Vashtie Kola just brings two different perspectives, because she's designed a lot of shoes and I've worn a lot of shoes.
You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.