Nike Designer Leo Chang Gives the Inside Scoop on the KD V

December 7th, 2012 by

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SN:  Looking into the future a little, as Kobe is getting towards the end of his career, KD seems to be the logical successor to move into that signature shoe upper echelon with the LeBron and become a more premium product with a higher pricetag. Is that transition already in the works with the future models you’re working on now?

LC: I think within reason, yeah for sure. We wanna make sure our products evolve with his game and make sure he’s getting the best of the best as well. We don’t wanna shortcut KD at all on the performance side, so you’ll see some moves from us for sure, but still within reason. Nothing astronomical. Especially after last year, you know pricing is different, but we honestly treat the three signature guys pretty equally. We feel like each one of those guys in any given year could win a championship, so we wanna do what’s right for them.

And honestly, stuff like full-length Zoom on the LeBron came out of fulfilling the needs of LeBron. He’s a beast and so he needs that great responsive ride and that cushioning underfoot.

Those are things that end up driving the performance and the pricepoint of the shoe, because that bag is really expensive to make. It’s just based on performance really, where it kinda naturally falls into that. This time around when KD asked for the Air bag in the back, I asked if he was good with that if it meant it going up in price a bit because that costs money to put in there and he was like, “Yeah, I’m good with that.” So I think he’s asking for it too, so we’re gonna move with him.

SN: Before we wrap up, is there anything we should know about the KD V that hasn’t been addressed much and you’d like to get out there?

LC: There were commentors online that were like – ‘What’s up with KD not having the heel technology he had before’ and ‘You’ve been selling on the idea that he was a forefoot player.’ Because for the most part, he used to primarily be on his forefoot, but his game evolves, and last year, he added more to his post game. Whereas before, he was on the perimeter more, but watching his game last year, it was really appropriate to start adding some cushioning to the heel. Because he’s taking these big long strides to the basket through traffic and all that, which he wasn’t doing as aggressively before. When you watch him, he’s got long legs and he’s taking these long strides and the angles he’s coming in on are pretty sharp and pretty hard. So you want something there so it’s not bottoming out the foam or whatever. That was really the thing that made it all make sense. And just watching him work out and developing that post move a little more.

SN:  So when you watch KD play, are you watching him play or are you just focused on his feet and the way the dynamics of everything are working?

LC:  Yeah, I’ve gotta watch his feet, you know?

SN:  But are you ever able to separate the two and sometimes just watch a Thunder game and enjoy it or are you always focused on those feet?

LC:  No. (Laughs) I’m always focused on the feet. Usually, when we give him his first pair of size 18’s, he’s at his skills academy or something and he’s shooting around before the kids come in. He’s got the shoes on and I’ve got my camera out and I’m like, literally just focused on the shoes. Shooting that and making sure it looks stable and it’s working. And also just watching his foot motions and his footwork. Those are the things that help a lot – just observing versus always asking him questions – just watching it. Everything from off the court, to on the floor, practice, him and his boys, all that. It’s just being an observer and soaking it all in. Eventually something will come out of it. Little things like just watching him do something will make it into the shoe somehow.

A big thanks to Leo Chang and the Nike team for taking the time to chat with Sneaker News. 

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Filed under: Featured Kevin Durant


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