NBA Lifestyle

NBA Cloth Talk: Talking signature shoes, player edition sneakers and endorsement deals

lebron-zion-steph-sneakers
LeBron James, Zion Williamson, Stephen Curry [NBA Getty Images]

Welcome to Cloth Talk! An ode to the phrase coined by DJ Khaled, NBA.com's Gilbert McGregor and Kyle Irving delve into all things style in the NBA. From uniform reveals to sneaker choices and everything in between, the two experts give their takes and provide clarity on concepts that are impossible to ignore.

In the latest edition, the two discuss the league's athletes with signature shoes, special colourways and have a special shout for some of the league's newest brand ambassadors.

Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): At this point, man, we're running out of words to describe Zion Williamson.

Considering the hype that surrounded him coming into his career, it's fair to say he's been as good as advertised and then some? I mean, he just keeps making history. Now, on top of everything he's doing on the floor, he's got his own sneaker that he'll be doing it in.

At 20.

I'm not quite sure what's more impressive … OK, the numbers are a little more impressive but still, it's not often that you see players this young get their own sneaker. I mean, LeBron was 18 when the Nike Air Zoom Generations came out, MJ was 21 when the Jordan 1s released, A.I. was 21 when Reebok came with "The Question", Kobe was 22 when Adidas dropped THE KOBE, Penny was 24 when the Air Max Penny 1 came out and … you get the point.

Kinda setting Zion up here by comparing him to five of the most iconic sneaker lines ever, but I have to ask, what are your thoughts on his new sig shoe, the "Jordan Z Code?" He's set to debut them in the New Orleans Pelicans' upcoming meeting with the Brooklyn Nets.=

Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): Is it just me... or are they not identical to Kawhi Leonard's New Balance KAWHI's?

Not from a colourway standpoint, of course. I just mean the general model of the sneaker. They do seem like a durable and high-quality shoe to hoop in, which as we've seen in the past, is very important for the 6-foot-7, 280-pound player who will be rocking them. Even without seeing other colourways, I'm not sure they'll have any impact in off-court style, but I can definitely see younger players taking a liking to them for on-court kicks.

McGregor: Wow, yeah, now that I'm looking at them side-by-side, I can't help but notice the parallels, aside from the gigantic Z that separates the sections of the shoe, of course.

Very similar cut and construction, which, as you said might be for the best given the way Zion plays the game. Kinda cool you mentioned younger players aka the youth. I think with Zion being so young and this first colourway being a fun one, these will be on the feet of plenty of kids at basketball camps and clinics in no time.

Nice little segue there with Kawhi's sig, too. I feel like we should run through the current guys in the league that have their own sneaker, right?

Irving: Let's hear it.

McGregor: To run it down, let's start with the brands that have multiple signature athletes...

Gave Steph the asterisk because he has his own Curry sub-brand at Under Armour now (think Nike and Jordan). I also want to point out Carmelo Anthony once had his own line with Jordan and Trae Young is set to have his own Adidas shoe in 2021-22.

Oh, and you've got Kawhi holding it down for New Balance and Klay Thompson doing big things with Anta. Don't sleep on the smaller brands.

All in all, is it Williamson that stands out the most as the youngest? Or LeBron, given the fact his first shoe dropped when Zion was 2? I mean, I'm sure you've got some favourites from the above sig lines, too, right?

Irving: Zion's name certainly stands out for being the youngest, but there's something about the significance of being so likable, popular, talented and dominant that you break off from the pack and receive your own sub-brand like Curry at Under Armour and LeBron at Nike. It further solidifies their lasting impact on the game that those companies believe people will purchase their shoes for the rest of time, just like Jordan.

With that being said though, my personal favourite from the aforementioned signature lines are without a doubt the LeBron 8s.

And what better way to show them to y'all than the iconic photo of him and D-Wade? These are the best shoes I've ever hooped in. I wish I bought multiple pairs back in the day so I could wear them on-court forever, haha.

What about you? You must have a favourite line that sticks out to you too.

McGregor: Man, how much time we got? Haha.

I could easily go on forever, but of the above guys, I'm right with you on the longevity aspect. Speaking of, it's been 10 years (!) since the LeBron 8s originally released and now they're being retroed.

That being said, if I narrowed it down to just a few, with respect to the current guys, I'd look back to my firsts. My first LeBron was the LeBron 2 with the removable straps.

Around that same time I had a few pairs of Melo 1.5s and in later years, anything from the CP line. As a ballboy with the then-New Orleans Hornets, we got CPs each year and then it all came full circle once I walked on at Wake Forest, Nike and Jordan would show his alma mater some love with exclusive colourways.

Our own Player Editions (PEs), in a sense. I still hoop in them to this day, a fact to which you can attest.

Irving: And speaking of PEs, we have to mention a few Canadians that are making their mark in that department across a number of different brands. Jamal Murray is doing his thing with New Balance, Chris Boucher just recently landed a deal with Puma and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is paving his own path with Converse in a dual-partnership where he's also headlining their off-court fashion department (alongside Kelly Oubre Jr.).

Shai's Converse All-Star BB Evo PEs, gotta be my favourite out of that group though. I love what he's doing with a variety of different colourways, both low-top and high-top.

I also like how the high-top ones have a more modern feel to the classic Chucks, too. The partnership as a whole is as smooth as Shai's game on the court and his fits off the court.

McGregor: Gotta admit, when I first heard of the Converse partnership I was a little skeptical, or at least unsure of how it would look but they're doing dope things. Low key still kinda sad Shai's #wholelottakobes movement had to end with the switch but his cousin, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, has picked up where Shai left off on that front.

And on one last Canada-related PE note, the Sneaker King himself, PJ Tucker, has been designing his own Kobe PEs as part of his endorsement deal with Nike. I thought it was pretty cool that his most recent sneaker is the "Texas2Toronto" colourway that takes it back to his junior year as a Longhorn and his rookie year as a Raptor.

A post shared by P.J. Tucker (@pjtucker)

The burnt orange to red gradient is sick.

You gotta stop me now cause I think we could go on forever talking about these PEs.

Irving: You and me both. I do have one question for you before we wrap this up though. Who do you think the next NBA player will be to get his own signature line?

have one name in mind. Curious as to who you'll go with.

McGregor: Woo man, that's a good one. Someone immediately came to mind for me, too, and I wonder if I'm thinking of who you're thinking of.

Funny enough, this guy has technically had his own shoe before, but that was a different day. When we went through the brands with sig athletes, Puma didn't get mentioned and I think it's clear that LaMelo Ball will be the guy to get one.

Right now, the brand has different modernized variations of the shoes Clyde Frazier made popular in his day but making LaMelo the first signature athlete of the brand's rebirth almost makes too much sense to me.

Irving: Bingo, you read my mind. I will say, I completely forgot about Big Baller Brand Melo Ball 1s. I'm laughing as I type this.

However, I'm almost wondering what's taking Puma so long? It seems like it's a no-brainer that LaMelo's shoes would sell like crazy and if he has a hand in designing them, you know they'd be cold too.

It seems like it will be a matter of when the rookie sensation gets his own shoe, not if.

McGregor: Hahaha, how quickly we forget? Lonzo didn't drop the "MB1" song to get lost in history. But, you're right, it's gotta be when not if at this point. Maybe they'll wait until he turns 20 like Jordan did with the Z Code.

Whenever it'll be, I know we'll be right here to break them down element by element.

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