Arike Ogunbowale on Her Sneaker Collection, Activism in Women's Sports, and More

In an exclusive interview with Complex, Dallas Wings star Arike Ogunbowale talks sneakers, advocating for women in sports, and her new campaign with State Farm.

Arike Ogunbowale in the Nike Kobe 6 Protro 'Mambacita Sweet Sixteen'

Image via Getty Images/Tim Heitman

Arike Ogunbowale in the Nike Kobe 6 Protro 'Mambacita Sweet Sixteen'

Arike Ogunbowale of the Dallas Wings is one of the most notable players in the WNBA. She’s been a household name since 2018, when she became the first player to hit two game-winning buzzer-beaters in the Final Four. At the age of 26, she’s won a national title, is a two-time WNBA All-Star MVP, and was the WNBA scoring champion of 2020. Her first name, Arike, means “something you see and cherish,” and her explosiveness, fluid movement, and overall skills live up to the moniker.

As one of the most exciting and electric players in the league, her style and swagger can’t be missed—both on and off the court. Ogunbowale has been an avid sneaker lover since she first picked up a basketball and as a rising star in the league, she has the shoe game to show for it. From childhood to present day, Kobe Bryant has always been Ogunbowale’s idol, so it’s no surprise that she’s often seen wearing Kobes on the hardwood. Her extensive sneaker collection is no secret, and her love for sneakers is also represented in her newest campaign with State Farm, starring herself and Mark Cuban.

We caught up with Ogunbowale to discuss all things sneakers, advocating for women in sports, and what it’s like to have a sibling who’s also professional athlete in the prime of their career.

Can you speak to what it’s like being a founding member of LeBron’s “More Than a Vote” initiative? 
It’s dope being a part of it with great influential athletes and everything that it stands for. As athletes, using our platform to talk to the world has been amazing so it’s really cool to be a part of. 

You made an investment in Just Women’s Sports. How important of an initiative is that to you?
I’m a woman and I play sports, so that’s pretty much everything that I embody. So being able to put my money where my mouth is, and being able to promote women’s sports and support it in any way I can is definitely special.

You also have a State Farm ad coming out soon with Mark Cuban where you’re wearing the Swarovski Forces. Can you talk about that and what made you choose those shoes?
I’m big on white shoes and they also go with anything, but those definitely add a little flare. State Farm let me kick my feet up and just be my natural self, which is super dope. I couldn’t do basic Forces so I had to add a little flare.

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What are the top basketball sneakers you’ve ever played in?
Kobes, Zoom G.T. Cut 2, and Giannis Zoom Freak 1s. Those are the best ones I’ve played in.

Arike Ogunbowale Wears the Nike Kobe 6 'Grinch'

If you had your own signature shoe, what would it look like?
I’ll be dropping one at some point so I guess we’ll find out. A P.E. though.

You’re an avid sneaker collector off the court. What are some of your top pickups lately?
Honestly, I haven’t really bought too much as of late. I’ve been lying low for a little bit. I got the Black History Month Kobe 6s. I think those were my biggest pickup as of late.

What’s the most you’ve ever spent on a shoe?
Well, for a designer shoe, I’ve probably spent $600–$700, but I have the “UNC” Off-White 1s, which was an end-of-season gift from Red Bull. So I’m sure if I bought those myself, it would have been in the thousands, but I didn’t buy them.

What are your thoughts on the Tiffany Air Force 1s?
I think it’s just a status symbol but in reality if it didn’t say “Tiffany” and I just saw them and the colorway, I’d be like, “OK, cool shoe.” But obviously with the name and tags, it’s hyped up. They’re cute. I would wear them but wouldn’t buy them.

What are your top five sneakers of all time?
I’m a big Dunk fan. Not really specifics. Just the design. I’m a big Jordan 1 fan, obviously. I love Forces. Those would have to be in my top five for sure. I have probably 10 pairs. I like slides. I do like the Travis Scott Jordan 1 Lows, the Fragment ones. I throw those on a lot.

Besides yourself, who are some of the other biggest sneakerheads in the WNBA?
I would say Sue Bird. Epiphanny Prince. She got every Kobe honestly ever created. She has so many shoes. Well, I guess Sue’s not active in the league. So that’s active in the league right now, I’ll give it to Epiphanny Prince, for sure.

If you had to trade closets with one of your teammates, who would it be?
I wouldn’t trade with any of them. Well, now if I had to, that would be Diamond DeShields.

Arike Ogunbowale's Sneaker Closet

How excited were you to enter the WNBA and have the ability to express yourself more with your on-court sneakers?
I was super excited. I was with Under Armour for four years, so they had some shoes but not what I’m doing now. And I can wear a new shoe pretty much every game. Especially signing with Nike, it hooked me up. So I was definitely excited to just add a little bit of my style on the court with my shoes depending on how I was feeling that day.

We recently saw Kiki Rice debut the Air Jordan 38, and a few years ago your teammate Satou Sabally debuted the Air Jordan 36. What are your thoughts on sneaker brands giving women that opportunity?
Just in general, brands giving women the opportunity to debut shoes is dope. When you think of basketball, you think of men and the NBA. But on the women’s side, there’s a lot of great athletes with big platforms at that so brands recognizing that and letting women debut things and girls in college debut things is really dope to see.

Your brother Dare is in the NFL. What is it like being able to share the experience of being a professional athlete with your sibling?
It’s amazing, especially because it’s my first time being in America this offseason, so we’ve been able to work out together how we used to when we were younger. It has been really dope to see him in his craft doing what he does. Also for him to see me doing what I do, just having someone I can relate to on the level of a professional athlete, is dope. He’s like my best friend. He knows everything about me and everything I go through, so I go to him before any decision I make. Having him by my side and his sharing the same experiences as me has definitely been dope.