The last three-game “home stand” for the Phoenix Mercury brought a lot of interesting shoes, including customs and the like. Yet, customs seemed to be at the forefront of these last couple of games. The Mercury ended up losing all three games against the Seattle Storm, Minnesota Lynx, and Las Vegas Aces, listed in calendar order. Each game brought out really unique shoes for each themed night.
The game against the Sky happened to be the Women of Inspiration game for the Mercury. The team enlisted Ruff Customs, to make each player a pair of custom shoes with the woman or women who inspire them the most. The players picked from a wide range of women, varying from their own mother to Taylor Swift to Lauren Jackson to RBG and beyond. I spoke with Zoe Ruff, who designed each pair about the experience, stating, “It was just amazing. I had such a great time. It was the coolest experience I have ever encountered. I loved it. It was great to get to understand the girls and what inspires them and allowing them to wear that on their shoes. I just thought it was really, really sick.”
I got the opportunity to speak to many of the players after the game, about why they chose the women that they did. Briann January displayed the most women on her shoes. She included Michelle Obama, Madam CJ Walker, Angela Davis, and Shirley Chisolm on her customs. She said, “I picked my ladies because they are badass. That’s pretty much it. All of them just inspire me because they used all of their platforms to fight against social inequality. All of these ladies used whatever resources and their voice, in whatever way they could to create change. To fight for women’s rights, fight for trans rights, fight for African American rights, and that’s huge. That’s me, in a nutshell.” She mentioned she wishes she had Brittany Griner’s size shoe, so she could fit a few more ladies on her pair.
Camille Little had my favorite pair of customs, which honored Lauryn Hill and her album, ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.’ The pair included Lauryn Hill’s face, the pencil from the album, and lyrics. A lot of the Mercury players mentioned they would be putting their custom pair in a box, to display them after wearing them for the special game.
For the game against the Minnesota Lynx, the Mercury brought out a special guest, to honor for their Believe in Women campaign, which was none other than Coach Muffett McGraw. Phoenix Mercury player, Brianna Turner, and Minnesota Lynx player, Jessica Shepard, both played under McGraw at Notre Dame, so it was good to see the gang back together again. Turner happened to be wearing the Kyrie 5 ‘Taco’ kicks, while Shepard had on Air Force 1 Low Off-White Volt shoes.
The Mercury played the Las Vegas Aces for their last regular-season home game of the season. The game’s theme was Fan Appreciation Day, and Essence Carson showed how much she appreciated her fans by wearing a custom pair a fan-made just for her. “A very special fan-made these shoes for me. They are really special. Every detail on the shoe is based on something that has affected me in life. And I saved them for the last regular-season game. It’s been a long year, but I just wanted to let her know that I do appreciate her. I don’t know how else to say thank you, but that’s saying thanks right there,” Carson explained about the kicks. Some other shoe highlights from the last regular-season home game included Brittany Griner bringing out the Kyrie 5 ‘Squidward’ kicks and Diana Taurasi with the LeBron 16 ‘Superman SuperBron’ shoes.
Customs were all the rage for the last few Mercury games, and it was cool to see each player’s personal flavor be brought out in their shoes. The Mercury made the final spot for the WNBA playoffs, and match up against the Chicago Sky for the first round. I know the Mercury will be bringing the heat on their feet, as they might even bring out some more customs for the first playoff game.