In honor of Black History Month, Adidas has released a new shoe paying honor to Jesse Owens, while Nike unveiled special edition kicks for each of its signature shoes.
Kicks and Colors spotlights the variety of colorways—and the stories that go with—that brands unveil in key basketball sneakers.
Brands: Adidas and Nike
Colorway: Black History Month
Story: When Jesse Owens became the first American track and field athlete to win four gold medals in a single Olympics at Berlin in 1936—while taking a social justice stand along the way—he did so in handmade Adidas leather spikes. To celebrate Black History Month and Martin Luther King Jr. day, Adidas has partnered with the Owens family to celebrate Jesse on three different BHM models, worn both Monday and throughout February. The D Lillard 2, D Rose 6 and the James Harden-worn Crazylight Boost 2.5 will all feature cream tones, dark brown contrasts and gold accents. Signature detailing includes Owens’s 733 bib number treated with gold foil on the tongue and a 1936 graphic-print in the sockliner. The Derrick Rose shoe features aged, tumbled leather to mimic the Owens cleats and a black-and-white photo printed on the collar lining and back of the tongue. The Damian Lillard model plays off Owens’ uniform with plenty of off-white and gold foil texture. Harden and Andrew Wiggins will wear the Crazylight Boost 2.5 with a “Jesse Owens” graphic print lace jewel and the sprinter’s name embroidered on the inside of the tongue.
Nike went big when it came time to celebrate Black History Month, with 28 products spanning tennis, basketball, football and more inspired by a “vivid Pan African-inspired color palette with custom geometric motifs.” All four Nike signature basketball sneakers from Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving join the ranks of Serena Williams and others—including the Air Force 1 and Air Jordan 1— with special BHM sneakers. All four sneakers use a black background as the basis for the powerful colors and patterns we’ll see on the court.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and sneakers for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.