We have seen just about everything in the basketball sneaker space over the past two months. From auto-lacing sneakers to the return of the LeBron Watch Program, this has been an exciting period for sneaker culture in the NBA. And as we get closer to All-Star Weekend, expect to see brands tease and drop more products. The latest sneaker notebook explores recent news in the biz and answers your most pressing questions.
Nike unveils the future of footwear with Nike Adapt BB
It is no secret that the basketball sneaker market has grown a bit stale over the past few years. Basketball performance models have been on the decline as consumers opt for lifestyle models. When it comes to adapting to change, few brands in the world can emulate Nike. So what did the Swoosh do to shake up the game? On Tuesday, the brand unveiled the Nike Adapt BB, the first auto-lacing basketball performance model.
Thirty years ago, Nike and Tinker Hatfield brought the first auto-lacing sneaker to the big screen in Back to the Future II. The mythical Nike Magbecame a pop culture icon. In 2016, Nike introduced the Nike Hyperadapt 1.0, the first Nike multi-purpose performance shoe to feature power lacing while also offering 89 pairs of the Nike Mag for charity. The Adapt BB offers an advanced power-lacing system, an app that control features and outstanding performance aspects.
The sneaker is customized to give your feet the fit you want. While you would expect a sneaker that holds a battery to be heavy, it is actually lightweight and provides a locked-in fit once it auto-laces.
Here's a list of all the cool features to consider:
• Nike Adapt App: You can find the perfect fit by handling it manually or digitally using the Nike Adapt App to control the lacing system. It also allows you to choose which LED colors you want displayed on the outsole when you are on the court. There are 14 different options to choose from.
• Wireless charging: The battery takes two weeks to die, so you have plenty of time to charge your sneakers on a pod that takes a few hours to get you back to speed.
• Pricing: The Adapt BB is priced at $350, which is cheaper than the HyperAdapt 1.0 pricetag of $720.
• There will be updates: Because we are in the future, Nike will continue to update features while players wear them on the court.
First look: the sneakers remind me of the Kobe A.D. model. They are sleek and have a clean first colorway. It is also worth noting that Eric Avar, Nike’s VP of design innovation, who had a major presence on the Adapt BB, also worked on the majority of Kobe Bryant’s sneaker models. Bryant was there when Nike trialed the Adapt BB in a private run on their Oregon campus in August. Featured in the run were NBA and WNBA players such as Jayson Tatum, Luka Dončić, De’Aaron Fox, Kyle Kuzma, Breanna Stewart, Kelsey Plum and many more. Tatum will debut them when the Celtics play the Raptors tonight.
The sneaker is not perfect by any means but it is a sign that Nike is still the leader in the clubhouse when it comes to innovation. There will be more updates to the technology and there will be better models to come in the future. It took two years to create the Adapt BB but it has truly been 30 years in the making. The sneaker will release on February 17 during All-Star Weekend.
Westbrook releases best non-MJ Jordan model in years
Russell Westbrook’s latest signature sneaker, the Why Not Zer0.2, fits his personality more than any other signature star with their own personal sneaker. The distorted colorway “Future History” features a vibrant color-blocking that represents important things in Westbrook’s life and fits his brash personality and chaotic style.
It is a gift and a curse to be signed to the Jordan Brand. The positive note is that you are down with one of the most iconic brands in history. The downside is that you are going to have to live in MJ's shadow, which is difficult when you consider that his retro line remains a best seller. Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony have their own signature lines but they aren't considered iconic. There is the Blake Griffin endorsed Super.Fly models and the once-Victor Oladipo endorsed Jordan ExtraFly model, but none have really caught on or looked as good as Westbrook’s latest model.
According to Jordan Brand, their designers worked with Westbrook in OKC, L.A., Las Vegas and San Francisco on his days off. When he first saw the “Future History” colorway he threw another sneaker off the table and indicated that this was the one.
The Why Not Zer0.2 is perfect for Westbrook because it takes on his identity. While it is a Jordan shoe, you don’t get the sense of it when you look at it and wear them.
More colorways will be announced soon and Westbrook has everyone’s attention.
Kyrie masters the art of sneaker collaboration
There might not be a better signature athlete in sports than Kyrie Irving. He is the ideal sneaker pitchman—young, crafty, a champion and has an interesting but respected personality. The Kyrie 5 will go down as one of the best basketball silhouettes this year, and what makes it extra special is the way Kyrie has gone about collaborating. The Kyrie 5 “Taco” pays homage to close friend Travis “Taco” Bennett of the Odd Future collective. Irving also tapped Boston streetwear brand Concepts for a collaboration that showcases his love for the all-seeing eye theme and skateboard culture. Irving has shown appreciation for Concepts’ Lobster motif, which was featured on past models like the Kyrie 4.
Irving told Nike in a release: “It's a great collaboration with great people behind it who are thinking outside of the box. That's what you need sometimes in order to create great things. Just having a shoe with Concepts is awesome. People are like, ‘Wait. This is a rare Nike shoe?’ You're damn right it is.”
He recently unveiled the Nike Vapor X Kyrie 5 that has been worn by tennis pro Nick Kyrgios at this year's Australian Open. Both were born in Australia, and both share a love for their heritage and have unique personalities. The low-cut tennis version features the Kyrie 5 Flytrap-inspired upper and a Vapor X outsole.
Donovan Mitchell has his signature sneaker. Who is next?
Adidas loves Donovan Mitchell, so it wasn’t a surprise when they added him to a signature roster that includes Derrick Rose, James Harden and Damian Lillard. Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid did not pan out for the brand and Mitchell entered the NBA last year with a lot of flash and a huge fandom. The D.O.N. Issue #1 is titled after Mitchell’s mantra—Determination Over Negativity—and the sneaker plays on the Spiderman comic book theme with the issue number.
So who is next in line to receive a signature? Nike has already announced that Giannis Antetokounmpo will be receiving one in the near future, and that might be released around next fall. Other names to keep on the radar: Kawhi Leonard with New Balance and Embiid with Under Armour.
Where does the PG 3 rank in Paul George’s signature line?
Paul George’s signature shoes have been one of the most popular around the NBA. They are quality shoes that have remained at an inexpensive pricepoint.
When it comes to ranking each individual sneaker, it falls chronologically. The PG 1 will always be a personal favorite because of its combination of performance features and aesthetic. The PG 2 was an impressive follow-up (I prefer the 2.5) and was worn throughout last season by various NBA players.
The PG 3 is fresh and new but I need to see more colorways before I can rank it above the others. The NASA inspired colorway is pretty cool and pays homage to his hometown of Palmdale, California, which is known for its Space research center. He wore a black colorway in the epic game against the Spurs but fans on social media were quick to call out that it reminded them of Nike Hyperdunk models.
I am sure George and Nike have more interesting colorways up their sleeves, and I expect to see more collabs with Playsation and perhaps a 3.5 version with a strap.