words & images // Nick DePaula
portraits courtesy adidas
At the start of 2015, Portland Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard had checked off yet another lifelong goal.
He had his very own signature shoe in stores, as his debut D Lillard model dropped last February, the result of a new 8-year contract extension with adidas after his breakout start to his career. It was a time of celebration for Dame, his friends, family and both Oakland and Portland.
“I knew my family would wear the shoe right away, that’s a given,” laughs Dame.
How would the rest of the country and those in both his hometown and current city respond? That’s what Lillard was most excited for.
“Just to have back-to-back weeks of summer camps with over 300 kids, and at each camp, half of the kids were wearing my shoes every day and they had different colors of them,” he beams. “I think that was the biggest thing that moved me.”
As the summer progressed, Lillard and adidas Basketball were already hard at work wrapping up the finishing touches on his second signature shoe, the D Lillard 2, launching later this month on December 26th.
For starters, the 2 was on a longer lead time than the 1, with a full product cycle of feedback and input along the way, allowing for more personal details and storytelling to seep into the sneaker.
“We wanted to make sure that we got more of his story into his product,” outlines Brian Foresta, adidas Basketball’s Head of Design in an interview with Nice Kicks.
“We always walk the fine line between what’s going to enhance performance and what’s going to inspire him during those key moments,” Foresta continues. “The Oakland pattern comes directly from the Oakland tree city logo.”
Along the outsole and through the shoe’s midsole, you’ll see the flowing branch lines inspired by the iconic logo found throughout his hometown’s street signs. That pattern also aims to provide more coverage along the outsole for extra traction on Lillard’s signature moves.
“One of the things Dame always talks about is being able to stop on a dime and hit that step-back jumper,” describes Foresta. “We wanted to fine tune that traction pattern all the way up on his toes.”
In addition to the graphic, there’s the word “Oakland” through the forefoot — the font is straight from Dame’s chest ink. There’s also a nod to his mom Gina’s “Suga Gee” nickname along the heel, and a midfoot callout for the Brookfield neighborhood of the 510 that he grew up in.
The shoe might not launch until the end of the month, but Lillard couldn’t quite wait, debuting the #RipCity colorway last night at home while dropping 30 points in a Trail Blazer win. Along the heel, you’ll notice the split colorblocked counter, drafting from the Blazers’ iconic uniforms. You can expect to see Damian wearing them from here on out for home games.
As for seeing other people wearing his own sneaker? That’s something Dame is still getting used to, no matter what city he’s in.
“We came [to Oakland this summer], and some dude that I grew up with in this neighborhood was just riding by on a bike and he had my shoes on and a Trail Blazers hat on,” smiles Lillard. “He ain’t never been to Portland; this dude has been living right here his whole life. That was cool.”
Check out the adidas D Lillard 2 in detail below, and stay tuned for more launch details here on NiceKicks.com.