In the overflowing pot of basketball shoes, moments of triumph are the fire that keep the water boiling. Nike has always been on the mark with these fiery sneaker drops and it’s a big reason why their Basketball business was insanely profitable in early 2010s. Most recently, they expertly cashed in on two awesome consumer moments using the NIKEiD platform, specifically on April 13th, 2016 during Kobe Bryant’s “Mamba Day” extravaganza, and on June 21st, 2016 to celebrate LeBron’s epic comeback from down 3-1. In addition to that, Nike later dropped four distinct two-pair packages of the LeBron Soldier 10 and Kyrie 2 dubbed the “Four Wins” Collection. It’s no surprise that LeBron and Kyrie had the best selling signature shoes over the last year.
Above: Nike’s surprise release after the NBA Finals
Last night, Kevin Durant reached a new pinnacle of his career by winning his first-ever NBA championship and Finals MVP. Joining the ring-bearing ranks as LeBron of Kyrie, Kevin Durant quieted the critics and had an opportunity to create some demand behind his impressive new shoes, the Nike KD 10. Last night, once the clock ticked down to zero Nike offered a product that truly made zero sense given the moment. Instead of a limited run of a special edition KD 10, perhaps the royal blue PE that he wore throughout the Finals, Nike hit us with Air Force 1s with a boring design option that’s been around for years.
Above: Kevin Durant’s shoes for the 2017 NBA Finals
It’s totally predictable for Nike to drop a limited edition colorway of a signature shoe on a night like last night, but sometimes you gotta give the consumers what they want. The only surer bet than the Warriors winning a ring this year is that a KD 10 “Finals” quickstrike would sell out instantly, and right now Nike needs a sure bet when it comes their basketball footwear. We’ll take it a step further and say that if Under Armour released the Curry 4 last night, the sins of the Curry 3 would’ve been forgotten. That’s how powerful the clinching night in the Finals is, and it’s not that Nike doesn’t know that.
It’s a bit disappointing that Nike showed up empty-handed outside the Air Force 1 iD and the “Debate This” ad campaign. We understand that at the end of the day the brands have to move units and have to think larger scale, but small stories make up the big picture. With so many sneaker options out there, basketball products need to speak to the consumer. Basketball shoes tell stories like no other shoe can, and Kevin Durant’s first chapter as a champion may have gone untold.