We are exactly one week away from Opening Day of the new NBA season. Can you believe it? It seems like just yesterday we spotted Nate Robinson wearing Yeezy 2s on court, saw Nick Young playing against Kobe in Kobe 1s, and crowned Minnesota Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams the 2013 Kicks On Court Champion.
With the awareness of what players wear on court at an all-time high (and it’s only going to grow from here), we trekked away from the sneaker industry for a moment and formed a panel of experts in the NBA multimedia world – from ESPN, NBA.com, SLAM and other publications – to get their takes on last season and what to expect this season. Check them out debating the top questions surrounding Kicks On Court and share entertaining locker room stories in the panel discussion below.
Following the discussion, visit the last page to get familiar with the experts and their love for sneakers through each person’s bio.
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1. What is your biggest takeaway from last season in regards to Kicks On Court?
Sean Sweeney (@SEANesweeney), Dime Magazine: I’d say the response from the players. I thought Nice Kicks did a great job covering it and with the rise of customs and social media — particularly Instagram — it has created a brand new way to watch the games. Literally, on basically every team now, there are a few guys who take chances and wear something unique almost every night. You didn’t see as much of that even so short as five years ago.
Dave McMenamin (@mcten), ESPN LA: That there aren’t a ton of different sneakers that the majority of the league wears – you see a lot of Kobes, a lot of LeBrons, a lot of Jordans, etc. But the cool thing about it is the myriad of colorways that you’ll see those select models in. Also, when a player wears something that the rest of the league generally isn’t, it stands out even more.
Holly MacKenzie (@stackmack), Sports Net: There are guys who wear shoes to be noticed and guys who wear shoes because they love them and end up being noticed as a result.
Tzvi Twersky (@TTwersky), SLAM Magazine: A couple of seasons ago, the NBA loosened the rules regarding what colorways players could wear on the court. Last season players started taking full advantage of their new freedom. And how did they do so? In two major ways: Wearing a multitude of throwbacks, and a variety of simple – and edgy-colorways. Seeing the adidas Real Deals on court, seeing the Nike Yeezy IIs, seeing Mache Customs on court is something that we should get used to. Players care about what they wear more than ever, and have more freedom than ever.
Trey Kerby (@treykerby), The Starters on NBA.com: As a grown up who just moved, I can’t stop being envious of the closets these guys have. Yeah, the collections in them are amazing in their own right, but I’m crazy jealous about the custom storage options they have at their disposal.
George Kiel (@geokthree), Nice Kicks: The fact that players actually wore shoes inspired by their personal backgrounds, opposing matchups and things of that nature was a big takeaway from last season for me. Nick Young wearing Kobe Is against Kobe, Nate Robinson donning Concord Jordan 11s with the Bulls pinstripe uniforms (a la MJ during the 1995-96 NBA season), and Derrick Williams wearing “Oregon” Air Jordan 4s because he once played in the Pac 12 showed that the players are actually putting thought into what they wear. Also, the rate at which players switched shoes at halftime was alarming. We’ve seen it in past seasons, but it undoubtedly became the norm last season.
Ming Wong (@HOOPmag), HOOP Mag on NBA.com: As Nate Robinson showed with Yeezy 2s, dudes are not afraid to go outside the basketball performance category. You might see guys take it another level. Even then, they’ll probably fall short of Gilbert Arenas’ D&G strap-on joints he wore some years back when he was a sneaker free agent. Speaking of, I hope to see another high-profile player as a free agent. The freedom to wear anything and everything on court would be amazing from a sneaker perspective.
Lang Whitaker (@langwhitaker), NBA.com/NBA TV: That Russell Westbrook didn’t go as crazy with his Jordans as I thought he might. I still love tuning in (or going into locker rooms) to see what shoes guys are going to wear on specific nights.
Andrew Ungvari (@DrewUnga), Lakers Nation: Even if it was just for a few games, it was fun to see Rasheed Wallace back in the league with those blue suede Air Force 1 PEs with the silhouette on them. And who can forget Stephen Jackson’s Cement Spizike Jordan iDs? Those were not only cold but they made those ugly Spurs alternates with just the big spur on them actually look good. Considering that I’m quickly approaching that age where there’s only a handful of guys still in the league who are older than me, it was cool to see those two guys repping for those of us in our late 30s and showing youngsters how much better the shoes that we had growing up were.
Christopher Cason (@C4DUNK), Examiner.com: The biggest takeaway is what some of these guys have in their closets and how conscious players are now of what they wear. I remember Nick Young wearing the Chamber of Fear Air Zoom LeBron II last season and thinking, “He knows what he’s doing.” Having had the chance to cover Nate Robinson last season, I had a non-stop sneaker dialogue and one of the things I was disappointed in was the fact that he had a lot of heat he didn’t rock because he was sticking with Jordan as a tribute to his favorite player growing up and he loved being a Bull. The only non-Jordan shoe he wore was the Yeezy 2 and that was only for a few runs because the grip wasn’t the best on them on San Antonio’s court.