December 16, 2013 BY Sneaker News / 9
Last NBA Season brought us a ton of riveting storylines around the league, culminating in an epic 7-game championship series that crowned LeBron James and the Miami Heat as repeat champions thanks to Ray Allen’s heroic game 6 shot that will surely be played in historic highlight reels for years to come. The 2013-2014 campaign is a few months in the books and there have already been some major developments on the sneaker side of things. The last year of NBA action brought us some truly original footwear selections and memorable moments as more and more players have embraced the sneakerhead movement and made locker rooms around the league as competitive a place as the hardwood.
Whether it was players – and not just any players, but All-Stars in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade – embracing the custom sneaker craze, or some of our favorites like Nate Robinson and JR Smith lacing up non-basketball models, there were plenty of on-foot spectacles to keep us on our toes on a nightly basis. And let’s not forget about all the signatures and PEs as the leagues top stars received a wide assortment of special editions and wild makeups, and for anyone who didn’t, there were plenty of NikeiD options to help them keep up. We’ve selected some of the best stories from this year’s NBA Feet coverage, so get yourself all caught up on 2013’s standout on-court sneaker sightings.
2013 got off to a fast start when the best basketball players on the planet convened for the NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston. Whether it was Russell Westbrook switching up the Air Jordan XX8 “Green Camo” for mismatched Blue and Red versions on each foot in the second half, or LeBron and Team Swoosh showing off their “Area 72” editions, there were plenty of colorful kicks everywhere you looked down in H-town.
Nate Robinson has been prominently featured in plenty of our NBA Feet recaps thanks to his affinity for Air Jordans and his eagerness to show them off on court, but how would Nate top himself and his peers in the league? Breaking out the Nike Air Yeezy 2 in a game against the Spurs in March did just that and will have people talking about his sneaker heroics for years to come.
The custom sneaker game exploded in 2013 with all sorts of high profile athletes and celebs getting in on the fun. Last March we spotted Dwyane Wade on the floor showing off some work done by Mache Customs on his Li-Ning Way of Wade silhouette.
Although ‘Bron struggled for most of the first half against the Knicks that game, it might’ve been because he was trying not to crease the exclusive “Carmex” LeBron X PEs that brightened up MSG in a vibrant yellow with red accents in an homage to the lip balm. The Heat eventually escaped with a win, so the “Carmex” X can go down as a shoe that LeBron went undefeated in, even though he took them off for the second half.
When LeBron returns to Cleveland, headlines are always plentiful, so how would LBJ welcome all of the boos this time around? He actually broke out a silhouette that he wore while a member of the Cavaliers squad – the Nike LeBron VI “Fairfax” with its all black construction and red and yellow swoosh translating perfectly to the Heat’s red alternates. With a 25 point-deficit and their now legendary 27-game win-streak in jeopardy, the MVP pulled off another astonishing come from behind win. Are we seeing a trend here?
The Chicago Bulls were one of the more formidable on-feet squads of last season thanks to Nate Robinson’s selections, but it was also due in part to bench player Malcolm Thomas and his affection for Air Jordans. Facing off against the Brooklyn Nets in Round 1, Thomas broke out a custom pair of blacked-out Air Jordan XIs featuring a Bulls logo painted over the Jumpman.
For the second straight year, Nike outfitted their signature stars with revamped Elite Series models for the playoff grind. This year, however, the shoes started to show up on the feet of LeBron, KD, and Kobe a few weeks prior to the playoffs. With the Lakers in danger of missing the post season at the time, maybe Nike called an audible on the early debut to get Kobe in the shoe on court while they could.
Mache Customs struck again, this time helping Nate Robinson show some team pride alongside his love for the Air Jordan XIII with a special bright tonal red version. While the Bulls were supposed to be outmatched by the Brooklyn Nets on paper, they made an incredible run into the post-season that allowed us to watch Nate’s footwear for a few more games.
JR Smith had a huge season last year, finishing with the Sixth Man of the Year Award that got him a brand new contract with the Knicks this off-season. He flaunted a ton of on-court heat over the past year and was known for the diversity of his selections, from Jordans, to Nike sigs, and even iDs, but nobody expected him to lace up a pair of Bo Jackson’s Air Trainer SC’s for a playoff game against the Celtics despite the perfect match to the Knicks unis.
The Toronto Raptors have the advantage of a “Bred” uniform color and it doesn’t technically take a sneakerhead to realize the range of sneakers that could be worn to match. But the Raps did it so consistently with such a plethora of Air Jordans from the likes of Terrance Ross, DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay (now sent over to Sacramento), that it was almost as if they were competing with each other to rock the best kicks on a game by game basis.
Earlier this year, LeBron James became the fifth player in NBA history to win four MVPs and he’s done so in only half a decade. Nike’s special edition “MVP” Nike LeBron X honored the accomplishment by featuring a wild graphic scheme as diverse as the triple-double tendencies of the player who inspired them. The superstar broke out a pair against the Bulls in the second round of the playoffs after the award became official.
From Chris Bosh, LeMarcus Aldridge, Amare Stoudamire, and Anthony Davis – was there a power forward or center in the league that wasn’t outfitted with Nike’s resident basketball-geared Air Max model featuring a crazy Posite engraved upper? Let’s not forget about Rajon Rando’s Christmas themed PE either, as the model could be spotted in just about any NBA game turning heads in a number of vibrant color schemes.
On the way to his second straight NBA Championship, it seemed like LeBron James was breaking out a new pair of LeBron X Elite PEs on a nightly basis throughout the playoffs, but things heated up even further once King James and company got to the Finals and Nike hooked him up with an eye-catching red/metallic gold pair to finish in style.
Last season was a huge year for Nike iD, as all three of Nike’s premier signature models were available for customization for the second straight year. What resulted was a plethora of players whipping up Nike iD PEs for themselves and rocking the LeBrons, Kobes, and KDs on court all across the league and at times, even against the player whose name was on them.
When Ray Allen won his first championship as a member of that 2008 Celtics squad, he started off the next year accepting the ring in a pair just as exclusive as the Larry O’Brien trophy – a white based Air Jordan XI with gold patent leather and green accents. After his heroics in Game 6, he definitely deserved another pair for Miami’s Finals win and started off this 2013 season opener in his Heat-flavored Air Jordan XI “Two Rings” PE.
On opening night, King James returned to the hardwood to accept his second championship ring and begin defending his title against the Chicago Bulls donning an Iron Man-esque red and metallic gold PE colorway of his latest signature model, the LeBron XI. Since then, the assortment of LeBron XI PEs has been slowly growing in numbers, but regardless of what’s to come, these will be tough to top.
The Toronto Raptors are known for their sneaker efforts team-wide, but one of the biggest contributors has undoubtedly been DeMar DeRozan. Never one to shy away from an exclusive pair, DeRozen broke out an Air Jordan V initially leaked by DJ Khaled that featured an all black finish and 3M accents. With this year signifying the 23rd anniversary of MJ’s fifth signature, we were hit with so many colorways that this one just didn’t make it to retail. How they ended up on DeRozan’s feet remains a mystery.
While we’ve had some good looks at the Nike LeBron XI on court this year, James made headlines earlier this season by switching back to the LeBron X Elite for some games while some tweaks were being made to his in-game pairs. But even while ‘Bron was taking a break from his new shoe, players like JJ Hickson, DeMarcus Cousins, and Eric Bledsoe have all been giving it love. Now that LeBron is back in the XI, it’s unlikely that we’ll see any more Xs in 2013-14, but it made for an interesting storyline while it lasted.
The Toronto Raptors were the first team to feature a camouflage uniform, so it was only a matter of time before one of their sneaker savvy players decided to lace up a matching pair of the “Army Camo” Foamposite Pros. Leave it up to DeMar DeRozan who is known to surprise with his footwear selections to pull off the ensemble with style. With Rudy Gay no longer on the roster, you can look for DeMar’s role to grow, both on the court and in terms of picking up the sneaker slack.
Kobe wouldn’t be Kobe had he not rehabbed as hard as he did over the off-season to come back after only missing the first 19 games of the season. In honor of his 9th shoe with Nike, the Swoosh rolled out the Prelude series – giving special retro treatments to all 8 of Kobe’s Nike signatures, and in his first game back from injury, the Black Mamba sported the Nike Kobe Zoom 1 installment, appropriately against the team he put up 81 against while wearing that model in 2006.