Elena Delle Donne’s passion for sneakers started in early childhood. “The biggest moment in sneakers for me was hearing that Sheryl Swoopes was getting a signature shoe. I was six or seven and I had to get to the store immediately,” Delle Donne recalls. “The second I got those shoes on my feet, I don’t think my mom could pull me off our basketball hoop. I was outside playing, and truly felt like I was Sheryl when I was wearing them.”
The Nike Air Swoopes remains Delle Donne’s favorite sneaker of all time. Fittingly, her latest PE, a personal take on the Nike React Hyperdunk 2017, reflects this longstanding affection. “This shoe is truly inspired by my favorite basketball player of all time, Sheryl Swoopes,” notes Delle Donne. “There are a lot of pieces in the shoe that represent the Swoopes 1. If you look at the inside pattern of this Hyperdunk, it has the same pattern as on the Swoopes 1. My favorite part is the tab on the back of the heel, which was a signature element of the shoe.”
Beyond that, the athlete’s inherent knack for design (she’s an accomplished furniture maker) is evident in the color blocking and material choices on the Hyperdunk. “It’s all a part of art and making things that are inspirational. Working in the woodshop definitely helped me develop my eye for different colors and materials,” she says.
On that front, the suede panel at the back of Delle Donne’s Nike React Hyperdunk 2017, for example, is a subtle nod to the Swoopes 1, while the color scheme effortlessly nods to the Swoopes 1 and the athlete’s current team in Washington D.C.
Additional design details include:
1. Color blocking that mimics the Nike Air Swoopes from 1996
2. The angel wing tattoo rendition on the inside tongue as a tribute to her sister, Lizzie, which you can not only see but also feel — Lizzie is blind and deaf
3. Heel tabs feature “1” on the left and “1” on the right portraying Delle Donne’s uniform number in a similar fashion to the heel tabs on the Air Swoopes
4. Outsoles read “Demand” and “Excellence”
Delle Donne wore the special Nike React Hyperdunk 2017 on-court on Saturday, August 26. The shoe hits retail November 4.