The NBA landscape has changed quite a bit since the Warriors defeated LeBron James and the Cavaliers back in June. This upcoming season is already full of intrigue and the sneaker storylines might be just as good. With opening night just a few days, we will dig into the biggest sneaker-related questions for this upcoming season, such as the status of GiannisAntetokounmpo’s shoe deal, Kevin Durant vs. Stephen Curry and the impact of Kyrie Irving’s move to Boston.
Will LeBron regain sneaker supremacy?
The sneaker world has evolved and reached a place where lifestyle models have taken over the game and the feet of consumers. Gone are the days where performance sneakers can bring in a ton amount of money in sales off performance aspects alone. Even someone like LeBron James, who may arguably have the second-greatest signature line in history, has suffered from the transition. Last season, LeBron placed second in sneaker sales to none other than Kyrie Irving, thanks to the Kyrie 3.
It is worth noting that Irving’s sneakers have always had a more affordable price point, marketed at $120 compared to LeBron sneakers that have topped $200 several times. As a true business man, LeBron understands that losing the sales battle is not a good look as one of the game's biggest names and brands (Imagine Jordan losing in sneaker sales to Pippen).
The LeBron 15 is one of LeBron’s boldest sneakers yet. It features the same bulk and innovative performance elements that we have come to know with his sneakers but offers an attempt to compete within the flyknit revolution with what Nike calls flyknit battle construction. The sneaker will be a beast on the court as expected, but has already made its rounds on the scene of fashion shows such the KITH Sport Fashion show. Will this be enough to give James’ groove back? The sneaker will release October 28th for $185. Check back in a few months to see how this sells.
Where will the Greek Freak land?
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the best sneaker free agent on the market, and as expected he has numerous suitors vying for his attention. Antetokounmpo’s Nike contract recently expired, and with his potential untapped, brands are trying to do anything to land him. Not only has Antetokounmpo showed his talent on the court, but he has become a fan favorite off it for his jubilant personality. The Greek import comes from humble beginnings and has morphed into a serious MVP candidate in just a short span of time. Antetokounmpo was a huge fan of Kobe’s signature line, often wearing the Kobe X and Kobe A.D. models.
Adidas was the first brand to publicly make their pitch, sending over a van full of products to Antetokounmpo outside the Bucks training facility.
Despite the gray news surrounding the brand over the NCAA controversy, Adidas has been on a streak as of late within the sneaker industry after news broke out that the brand surpassed Jordan Brand for second place in terms of sales in the U.S. basketball market. The three-stripes roster also includes a young crop of guys like Kristaps Porzingis and Andrew Wiggins, bringing in Antetokounmpo would create an ultimate and fun trio.
According to Nick DePaula of ESPN, Li-Ning will also make a huge push to get their hands on the Greek Freak. Li-Ning has shown itself to be a true player in the sneaker war business as more and more NBA players are opting out traditional deals with historic brands in hopes of landing more money and possibly a signature shoe. The brand recently signed Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum to a deal. Dwyane Wade is currently on his sixth model with the brand and is still one of the most marketable NBA players in the league. The Greek Freak has the talent and the personality to take a brand to new heights. I wouldn't be surprised if he took this route, but it's worth noting that Nike has the right to match any deal with Antetokounmpo.
What is this season's most anticipated sneaker?
As we get closer and closer to the start of the NBA season, more and more players will be unveiling their signature sneakers. Stephen Curry and Under Armour strategically unveiled the Curry 4 during the NBA Finals when the world was watching. Kevin Durant is usually the first superstar to release his sneakers as his target dates always land during the summer time. We have already discussed the LeBron 15. But what is next to drop? Here are three sneakers I can’t wait to see.
You have to give it to Nike and Paul George for doing everything right for the release of a first signature sneaker. The $110 price point was a great test for consumers to see if they would bite on a PG-13 silhouette, and it turns out they did. Not only did the PG1 have an excellent price, the sneaker is dope. I have not seen a wack colorway for the PG1 yet, and the sneaker released back in March. The PG1 is going to be one tough act to follow.
Nike Kyrie 4
It is going to be interesting to see how Kyrie Irving elevates his brand in Boston. Irving has had one of the most successful starts for a signature sneaker line and still remains a favorite within the young demographic of hoop fans. The thing is, it is not hard to market Kyrie because he does an exceptional job of building hype off his play alone. The Kyrie 3 was a solid performance model and came out a great price. Photos of his fourth model has leaked on the Internet, but it’s hard to judge a shoe off sample images. There is an image of him on set of his Uncle Drew movie with what seems like his newest model but you never know. With Irving having his own team now, all eyes will be on him this year and his shoes.
Adidas Harden Vol. 2
Adidas jumped over the Jumpman? Kanye’s own prophecy didn’t exactly come true but he did create a brand new hype machine surrounding the three-striped brand. One name that had a lot to do with Adidas’s new found life in the basketball sneaker market in the U.S. is James Harden. The brand transitioned into their lifestyle mantra just in time and found a great endorser in the Beard who shelled out a pretty great first signature model, the Harden Vol. 1. It is going to be interesting to see how Adidas prepares this upcoming season with the Nike officially taking over the NBA. They have invested a lot in Harden, and it is only right that Vol. 2 keeps the momentum building.
Did the state of Jordan Brand change this summer?
WELL... the news break of Jordan Brand ending Carmelo Anthony’s signature line came as a surprise. Anthony quickly downplayed the news insisting that he just signed an extension with the brand.
Jordan Brand officially released this statement regarding the future of Melo's signature line. “Melo is a long-time and respected member of the Jordan family. As is the case with all Jordan family athletes, we work together with Melo on a footwear plan each year, and no decisions have been finalized about future models. Any decision made will be a collaborative one between Melo and Jordan Brand.”
Melo has the fifth-longest running signature line to date and it will be a sad way to go out without proving himself once more in OKC alongside Russell Westbrook, who just inked a long-term contract with the brand.
Jordan Brand loves the idea of CP3 in Houston, and it gives them more room to dominate in another city, especially in an effort to steal Harden’s Adidas shine.
In terms of Jordan products, we will see a mix of old sprinkled in with the new. The brand will celebrate MJ this holiday season with the Air Jordan XI in two colorways that pay homage to Jordan’s collegiate and professional championships.
In terms of PE’s, they have that covered as well. You should expect Westbrook to wear some crazy colorways of the Air Jordan XXXII this season.
Is there a sneaker war in Golden State?
According to this picture, it doesn’t look like it. Yes, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant are two of the biggest names in the NBA, and of course there will be some kind of fun/competitive tension revolving around their sneakers. I don’t believe the two are actually beefing over their shoes, but we should not be blind to the fact that Nike and Under Armour reps are probably watching every single move on the other side. I am all for the conspiracy theory that Nike persuaded Durant to join the Warriors to destroy Curry’s signature line.
Lost in the midst of this “sneaker war” is the third signature player on the Warriors roster, Anta’s Klay Thompson who may have the greatest sneaker commercial since “It’s Gotta be the Shoes”.
Will the Big Baller Brand have any impact?
You have to give it to the Ball family for going all out and believing in their brand. Lonzo even had the guts to remix his own sneaker before it even released.
While it may be fun and games to some who see what the House of LaVar has built, it is going to be intriguing to watch how many young prospects opt to go in a different route with brands or create their own. Whether you like it or not, Big Baller Brand may have started something.