Young basketball star Ja Morant seems to have a knack for getting into hot water. Fresh off of a suspension from the Memphis Grizzlies for flashing a gun on social media, the 23-year-old did it again. And got suspended again, this time during a period when his shoe deal with Nike was to debut his latest signature shoe — the Ja 1 “Hunger.” Many thought the sports apparel giant would pull the plug on the launch, but Nike went ahead.
The Ja 1 “Hunger”
The shoe went on sale May 25 through Nike’s SNKRS app. Within 20 minutes of the launch the app posted the shoe was sold out, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Before the shoe went on sale, Nike listed about 3,000 pairs of the Ja 1 “Hunger” sneaker for its entire U.S. inventory.
The company had listed about 16,000 and 5,900 pairs in its U.S. inventory for each of the previous Ja 1 sneaker releases, which are low numbers compared with other releases, said Owen Stelmarski, who runs SwiftSole, a sneaker information website. On its most recent collaboration with rapper Travis Scott, the sneaker giant had about 110,000 pairs in its inventory, he said.
Compare this to other releases of Ja 1 sneakers in which Nike around 16,000 and 5,900 pairs in their U.S. inventory, according to Owen Stelmarski, the owner of sneaker information website SwiftSole. And keep in mind, for Nike’s latest collaboration with rapper Travis Scott, there were around 110,000 pairs in stock.
Morant’s Nike Deal
In 2019, Morant signed an endorsement deal with Nike before being drafted as the second overall pick in the NBA draft. Morant is the first Gen Z basketball player to have a signature shoe with the company. The multi-year contract reportedly is worth around $12 million.
The first sneaker in the Nike Ja 1 line was released in December 2022 and went on sale at retail stores earlier this year.
In the 2023-24 season, Morant’s salary is about $33.5 million.
On May 13, the Memphis Grizzlies star was caught on social media for the second time glorifying guns and gang violence, which runs counter to the NBA’s overall family-friendly programming.
The video, which led to Morant facing what apparently will become another multi-game suspension, shows him and his friend Davonte Pack rapping to an NBA Youngboy song in a car. Morant can be seen in the passenger seat waving a gun.
This second gun incident follows a similar situation on March 4, when Morant was filmed on Instagram Live holding a gun inside a Denver-area strip club.
In July of last year, Morant was accused of punching a teenager named Joshua Holloway during a pickup basketball game that took place at Morant’s residence. Currently, Morant is embroiled in a lawsuit filed by Holloway and has filed a countersuit.