The words of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar now cover the shoes of the league's brightest stars. This month, the NBA legend lent his inspirational history to Adidas as part of the company’s Black History Month collection of four Adidas kicks, all in sepia tones, filled with Kareem quotes.
The limited edition collection includes the Crazy 8 and the signatures for Derrick Rose, John Wall and Damian Lillard, which offer Lillard his first limited edition colorway since the launch of his shoe on Jan. 13.
Each of the shoes includes inspirational quotes from a decade of Kareem’s career, with the Wall signature fully covered in words.
The shoes will debut on the feet of Adidas athletes on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and then make repeat appearances during “select games” in February.
“I was very fortunate to have African-American role models and pioneers I could identify with and learn from as I forged my career in basketball and my personal journey in life,” Abdul-Jabbar says in a statement. “Every success I’ve had is due to countless hours of hard work physically and mentally, and I’m proud to tell that story and inspire the next generation of role models.”
The Crazy 8 dips the furthest back, with a 1960s “Fundamentals are the Foundation for Excellence” quote on the sockliner and upper. The canvas upper harkens to the ‘60s, while the cracked texturing is meant to reflect the blacktop courts of Harlem where Kareem played in his youth. A purple and gold sockliner ties to Kareem’s days at Power Memorial Academy.
The J Wall 1 covers itself with all four quotes, including “Rules are What Make the Game Challenging,” filling the entire upper with words. A blue and gold sockliner with a hardwood print tie to Kareem’s days at UCLA and Pauley Pavilion.
“The Hook Shot is Worth a Thousand Words.” You’ll find that mantra, along with the others in the collection, across portions of the upper of the D Rose 5 Boost. The sockliner ties to Kareem’s days in Milwaukee with red and green and a pattern reminiscent of the radio tower that broadcast Bucks games.
You can find purple and gold and palm trees on the sockliner of the D Lillard 1, ending the collection with a link to Kareem’s days with the Lakers. “When the Music Changes, so Does the Dance” is the quote that ties to the fourth shoe in the collection.
Inspiration, Kareem style.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.