To NBA athletes, the regular season means more than just 82 games of boards, buckets, and buzzer beaters. Fall also signals the release of new models from major shoe brands, providing stars with a great platform to showcase their sneakers. Despite having to wear a uniform, players can highlight their individual style on the hardwood by wearing bold and colorful basketball shoes (although Chris Douglas-Roberts is clearly trying to show some flair through his uniform by donning some throwback short-shorts this season). Sneakers also represent a significant source of revenue for NBA stars, and having a signature shoe is a tremendous branding opportunity. Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and Jamal Crawford are the three Clippers who have their own shoe models. Here is a brief primer on their signature kicks for this upcoming season.
It comes as no surprise that Blake Griffin, one of the most marketable players in the NBA today, is responsible for a significant share of the specialty sneaker market. Since he joined Jordan Brand, a subsidiary of Nike, in 2012, his official shoes have been the Jordan Super.Fly. While Griffin was in Las Vegas for the second day of training camp, his latest Jordan Super.Fly 3 sneakers dropped at retailers across America.
Signature shoes are designed in collaboration with the individual athlete and for him specifically. Although it may go unnoticed by everyone but the most discerning of fans, the pattern of Griffin’s new kicks plays on his earth-shattering, rim-rocking dunks by having a design "inspired by a sonic boom." The structure of the shoes is also tailored to Griffin’s soaring style of play. According to Jordan Brand, "With Griffin’s high-flying game being the inspiration to the design, the goal was to create a shoe that helps him jump even higher, with greater explosiveness. The team incorporated an evolved FlightPlate to provide the power for flight, while amplifying energy return from the Nike Zoom unit in the forefront."
Although the Jordan Super.Fly 3 may be simply a pair of shoes, it truly captures the spirit and playing style of the Clippers’ star power forward.
Chris Paul has been a member of the Jordan Brand family since 2008, and November 1, 2014 will see the release of the Jordan CP3.VIII.
Unlike Griffin’s new shoes, which are designed to accommodate his high-wire act during games, Paul’s sneakers are designed for speed and agility. Again, a description from Jordan Brand:
"Paul’s game is notoriously fast, and he requires a shoe he can trust when he’s making quick changes in direction, stopping in an instant or initiating a high-speed attack on the rim. The TPU chassis provides this type of supreme stability for the rapid directional moves that Paul is known for."
Paul is an addicted "sneakerhead," and he has openly admitted that he wears a different pair of shoes during each game. His closet could put the local Foot Locker out of business. Here he lets cameras inside his closet for a look at his epic stash of footwear:
His passion for sneakers was very clear in an article from Brian Horowitz of Dime Mag, who interviewed Paul about the release of the CP3.VIII. In the piece, Horowitz reflects on the care Paul puts into each design:
"From paying tribute to his late college coach Skip Prosser on the 1’s, to the Chevron-esque logo hidden somewhere on each pair to honor his grandfather’s legacy, all the way to an extended family tree on the tongue of the VIII’s, Paul remembers every unique detail from each of his sneakers, and they give him a special boost before he hits the court."
Because of his passion for basketball kicks, Paul seems to truly relish the opportunity Jordan Brand has given him to put his own stamp on his collection. By studying his signature shoes, fans can get a glimpse into a side of Chris Paul they may not generally get to see. In this sense, these shoes really do connect the star with his fans.
Although Jamal Crawford may not be as big a name as his All-Star teammates, he too has the honor of having his own signature shoe, released through a relatively new sneaker company called Brandblack. As with the official sneakers of Griffin and Paul, Crawford’s kicks are designed to reflect his style of play. According to Brandblack, these shoes are lightweight and designed to facilitate changing direction with ease. Crawford first debuted his signature shoe, the J.Crossover, in the now infamous Christmas Day game against the Warriors in 2013:
His second shoe, the J.Crossover II, is tentatively scheduled to be released after All-Star break 2015. While Griffin and Paul are the resident experts on the team in shooting commercials, Crawford got in on the act in this slick, cerebral and flat-out intense advert for his sneakers:
Recently, Crawford subtly promoted his Brandblack shoes on Twitter while relaying a funny story about a sweet older woman on a plane, who believed him to be a college player hoping to get drafted by an NBA team. He had some good-humored fun with her:
The lady in the seat next to me on the plane just asked me about the shoes I had on my ft, she said " those are cool looking" had (cont)— Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) September 29, 2014
No idea that they're mine.. Pretty cool. pic.twitter.com/M1J4N224uw— Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) September 29, 2014
It says a lot about Crawford’s enduring popularity and youthful playing style that Brandblack has given him a multiyear shoe deal at age 34.
Let’s hope that these specialty sneakers give the Clippers an edge in helping them play to their best ability in their quest to bring home the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy this season.