The NBA is entertaining when you think of the high-flying aerial assaults on the rim or even catching fire from deep these days. Heck, the crossover certainly serenades crowds, but above all fans love the drama that goes with it. Last night, LeBron James was his usual self as he scored 26, dished out 11 assists, gave the backboard a rest as he had six rebounds, and finished tied with JR Smith with a game-high plus-14. However, the routine display of greatness James put on wasn’t the topic of discussion especially on Twitter. It was the statement he made with his signature shoe from Nike.
James wore the 15th installment of his trademark shoe, but he put a little flare on the back of his kicks as he had “I’m King” inscribed on them. Well, yes indeed he is the King as he is still the best player in the world. Those two words, however, were for one Enes Kanter and those in attendance at Madison Square Garden. He chose to keep it cordial after the game when asked about his shoe apparel. Below are other fashion statements that were bold, flat out silly, or have become legendary over time.
It was 1997 and the topic of discussion during the NBA Finals before Game 5 was of course one Michael Jordan. MJ was under the weather and no one quite knew what he could muster up in their game against the Utah Jazz. He went out and scored 38 points in a huge 90-88 win over the Jazz that gave the Chicago Bulls a commanding 3-2 lead in the series. The everlasting memory of that game was Scottie Pippen helping Jordan off the court as he was physically exhausted. The rest is history and over time Jordan’s shoes have taken a life of their own as people still clamor for his footwear. The “Flu Game 12s” are the shoes he wore that night and, today, you see many “hypebeasts” doing any and whatever it takes to get a pair. Jordan didn’t intentionally make a fashion statement that night, but stellar marketing has made his shoes absolute must haves. In addition, he changed the landscape of sports as getting a signature shoe deal is at the forefront of most athletes’ minds today.
The 2001 NBA Finals will forever be remembered as a bowling ball facing an immovable object affair as the Los Angeles Lakers dismantled the Philadelphia 76ers en route to a championship. The Lakers came into this series undefeated, but Allen Iverson came in with other plans. He scored 48 big ones in an overtime victory in Game 1, 107-101. With Iverson, it’s never about the points as it’s the story line that goes with his performances throughout his career. Back to Game 1, Iverson absolutely toyed with poor Tyronn Lue, but the culminating moment came when Iverson stutter stepped him a few times before finally pulling up for a mid-range jumper and nailing it. AI stepped right over Lue in front of the Lakers’ bench in one of the most memorable and disrespectful sequences ever. It’s hard to look at T. Lue and not think back on that moment. Oh, Iverson was wearing his signature shoe “The Answer” and it doesn’t get that much better for Reebok.
Jorts and Birkenstocks
Tim Duncan is a future Hall of Famer, but when it comes to fashion he deserves to be in the Hall of Shame. In 2002, he had one of the best campaigns by a big man in league history. Timmy D averaged 25.5 points, 12.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 2.5 blocks for an entire season back when Gregg Popovich wasn’t resting him every 15 games or so. Of course, he went on to win the league’s Most Valuable Player award, but the best defense played on him that season were the clothes he wore. In fact, Duncan took a picture with the trophy along with, then NBA commissioner, David Stern. He was wearing a red t-shirt, a pair of jean shorts (jorts), and a pair of Birkenstocks in his official photo. You can’t fault Duncan for staying true to himself as he seemed to never really cared about anything unless it involved Spaulding. Still, it was a head scratching move by one of the best ever.
Converse were once a shoe that plagued the NBA like Nike, Adidas, and other household brands today. Many people forgot Dwyane Wade rocked a signature shoe made by them up until 2012. Wade has always had a rather curious taste in fashion both on and off the court, but let’s save that for another day. Converse and D-Wade’s highlight moment came in the 2006 Finals when he was on an absolute tear. A lot of people forget that “Flash” was in that next wave of elite shooting guards after Kobe Bryant vying for notoriety. In the Finals versus the Dallas Mavericks in ’06, Wade carried the Miami Heat to a championship as they reverse swept the Mavs, winning the series 4-2. The Heat legend averaged 34.7 points and 7.8 boards during the Finals as he was named MVP of the series.
That isn’t some sort of statistic or encrypted number you need to worry about cracking like 3.14 in math, that’s pie by the way. No, this is Bryant’s final game and one in which he went out in style. The Black Mamba and Nike worked together to create a lot of buzz around his last game and it was predicated around his signature shoe. Many athletes and fans were giddy as they wanted a pair of the black and gold Kobe 11s. They were sold in a limited bulk, which made them more sought after. Vino lived up to the hype of his shoe and final game as he put up 60 points against the Jazz. Haters will want to focus on his efficiency or the fact that his teammates fed into this last “Mamba Mentality” effort. Instead, let’s just take it for what it is as one of the greatest closing acts for an all-time great ever.
Yes, for the millionth time, the Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the 2016 NBA Finals versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. The main focus here is what the Cavs wore and won the championship in during this unprecedented run. King James was very outspoken against the league’s short sleeved jerseys when they first came out. He believed the fabric affected him in a poor shooting display against the New York Knicks in the 2015-2016 season as he went 9-for-23. However, when the Cavs came out rocking those same black short sleeved jerseys in Game 5, it was a bit perplexing. They won the game as he and Kyrie Irving dropped 41 points each. In the end, the Cavs won Game 7 in those same jerseys and JR Smith was quoted saying James was the reason they wore the jerseys. The black jerseys symbolized “pride” to the King and he even made a fashion statement by ripping the sleeves.
The Trendy MVP
Russell Westbrook has a wrap sheet that extends longer than a Twitter timeline when it comes to the bold statements he makes with his outfits. However, he had moments a year ago in which he had subtle jabs at Kevin Durant as their “bromance” ended following the departure of KD. Westbrook chose to stride on into Oracle Arena before a game against Durant’s new team wearing a photographer’s vest. Coincidence? Not quite. One of Durant’s side hobbies is photography as he went to the Super Bowl 50 as a credentialed member for The Players’ Tribune. Westbrook, being the politically correct expert he is, completely denied the notion that he was mocking KD as he appeared aloof to the whole idea. Nevertheless, this fire burning within him following the loss of KD propelled him to averaging a triple double, notching 42 triple doubles, and he won the MVP. Firing shots nonstop, on and off the court, is what makes Westbrook one of the most entertaining ballers today.
Going Too Far
The Boston Celtics held a 3-2 lead over the Washington Wizards in the 2017 NBA Playoffs. Well, the Celtics must have been feeling themselves as they waltzed right into the District of Columbia sporting all black like it was a funeral. When almost every player comes in wearing all black with a series lead, that usually means they think the series will be over after that game. In other words, it is a sign of arrogance and blatant disrespect. Apparently, Brad Stevens, Celtics head coach, had no idea, but the Wizards got the memo as they played like madmen. The Wizards won on a game winning three-point shot by John Wall as they forced a Game 7. Boston won that series as Washington ran out of gas in the final game of the series, but the Celtics learned a valuable lesson. They learned that there are repercussions to the choices you make as their decision to wear all black blew up in their faces.
If you aren’t familiar with Carmelo Anthony’s alter ego, you might need to get your head checked out. Hoodie Melo is one of the greatest basketball players known to man as he can do all things through the Jordan hoodie he rocks. During the 2017 offseason, he started this new phenomena that got fans excited for his upcoming season. It might have been something blown out of proportion as Anthony may have been just minding his business getting ready for the season the same way he normally has. However, he bought into this persona as he started to take pictures with his signature Jordan hoodies and leaking workouts in which he was wearing one.
Hoodie Melo made people think he was due for a resurgence especially after waiving his no trade clause to go to OKC. He even wore his hoodie to his initial press conference for the Thunder. However, he has been struggling to regain his elite form this season in Oklahoma City. You have got to wonder if he practices wearing a hoodie with the Thunder. If he does, it is safe to say the Thunder coaching staff and players are confused as Anthony looks like a different man when he isn’t in the comfort of his hoodie.
Players in the NBA certainly want to be remembered for their play on the court, but they want to be immortalized for the trends they may establish. Some players like staying in their lane while others are all across the road. One thing is for sure and that is when fans turn on NBA games they usually look to the players for what they are rocking before, after, and during contests.