During the 2015-2016 season, C.J. McCollum broke out the custom Nike iD Kyrie 2s against the Washington Wizards, and boy-oh-boy are they beautiful. There’s something about custom colorways on kicks that get me excited, and these specially-crafted red/white/black Kyrie 2s are as good as they get. With the way that McCollum has emerged as one of the top shooting guards in the NBA, it’s only a matter of time before “3J” has a signature pair of his own to sport on the court.
Speaking of signature shoes, it’s the classic colorway of Damian Lillard’s second edition sneaker that really caught my eye. The white, grey, black, and red are obvious nods to Rip City, but it’s the classic gum soles that caught the attention of basketball fans and sneakerheads alike. These kicks feature Lillard’s signature logo on the back, sitting atop an engraved red and black plate. These low-top sneakers provide the ever-elusive trifecta of comfort, performance, and style.
Forget the fact that these are Kobe Bryant’s signature shoe and it’ll be much easier to admit that these are some absolute beauts. The Nike Kobe XI Elite Low features one of the sleekest designs I’ve ever seen on an on-court sneaker. The color fade is clean, especially on the red & black ‘Achilles Heel’ design. I balled in the previous year’s Nike Kobe X Elite Lows, but these new Kobes were the first low-top shoe that I’ve ever immediately admired with no further questions. After seven years of various low-top releases, I’ll give any Kobe shoe the benefit of the doubt.
Since we’re on the subject of low-tops, these kicks don’t quite have the glamour of a low-top Nike Kobe shoe or, well, whatever you want to say about the controversial Under Armour Curry Two Low, but they definitely get the job done. Actually, I supposed ‘getting the job done’ would be a bit of an understatement. I normally don’t put my trust in low-top shoes when I hit the hardwood, but I actually own a pair of Nike Hyperchases myself. They feature the comfort that you want in an on-court shoe, combined with great traction, and an overall light feel. My only issue with them? They are considered to be James Harden’s featured Nike shoe.
Noah Vonleh was one of the only two Trail Blazers to wear Jordan brand sneakers last season. The other? Gerald Henderson. Now, it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear this as these two were products of the Charlotte Hornets trade that sent Nicolas Batum to North Carolina. The overall connection here? Michael Jordan is the majority owner of the Hornets. The Jordan Super.Fly 3s are an ideal shoe for a player like Vonleh, who plays an innovative hybrid style at 6’10”. They combine mobility and durability; exactly what the former Indiana Hoosier’s skill-set requires.
Luis Montero takes us back to 2012, sporting a retro pair of Nike Kobe 8s. Being that these sneakers are four years old, you don’t see them on the NBA hardwoods very often anymore. In fact, you just generally don’t see these shoes much anywhere anymore. Combine that with the fact that the colorway is different from the traditional Trail Blazers colorway, I’d like to think that Montero found these buried deep in his closet. Maybe he went back to his hometown of San Domingo, Dominican Republic and found them there? Whatever the story may be, I, for one, am excited to see some iconic retro kicks find their rightful place back on an NBA court.
Mobility is the name of the game for the Nike Zoom Hyperquickness 2015. It’s a tight fitting shoe with a strong, well-needed ventilation system. The grip and weight on these sneakers are perfect for a quick-moving, sharpshooting, two-way athlete like Allen Crabbe. With all of these positive performance features, Nike still manages to maintain a sleek, humble design, especially on these bright red and white kicks.
The Nike Air Max Audacity has become a favorite among NBA big men, and rightfully so. From Anthony Davis to DeMarcus Cousins, this specialty shoe for centers and power forwards combine two of the most-desired qualities that a low-post banger could want in a sneaker; support and durability. Impressively enough, this high-performance sneaker features these qualities while maintaining a relatively low weight. It’s the perfect shoe for Ed Davis, a gritty player who isn’t scared to get physical in the paint with the NBA’s best bigs.
In truth, the Nike Hyperdunk 2015 isn’t the flashiest shoe ever made by the Swoosh brand. It’s a pretty basic design, which can be good or bad from a sneakerhead’s point of view. In my eyes, the style of these kicks are “good enough.” However, the “good enough” look hasn’t stopped the Nike Hyperdunk 2015 from being one of the most-worn shoes in the NBA during the 2015-2016 season. This shoe is all about performance, and it does a stellar job at that. With fantastic support thanks to a tight-fitting outer-foot material wrap and lightweight Flywire & Hyperwire technology, this shoe is a common favorite among guards, forwards, and centers alike.
Let’s take the Nike Hyperdunk 2015 and add some serious personality to it; that’s what multi-talented athlete Pat Connaughton did when he laced up these special edition kicks against the Washington Wizards last season. Nike’s Black History Month design was definitely attention-grabbing this year thanks to the various colorful African tribal-themed patterns used on their on-court sneakers. This same design was found on some other popular Nike kicks, including the Nike HyperQuickness 2016, Nike HyperRev 2016, and the Nike Air Max Audacity. Also, if you’ve seen the high-flying Connaughton take it to the rim, I’m sure that you could agree that the Hyperdunk is the perfect shoe for him.
The Nike Zoom Soldier VIII is one of LeBron James’ many signature shoes. These signature sneakers are lightweight and mobile enough for a guard, yet durable and supportive enough for a down-low glass-eater. The most unique feature of these shoes, however, is the fact that they feature a strap that can be horizontally zipped for a tight fit. Owning a pair of the Nike Zoom Soldier VIII Watch The Thrones myself, I can say that these are one of the most comfortable, best performing basketball sneakers that I’ve ever worn. I’d love to see Festus Ezeli lace up a pair of these unique kicks in a Trail Blazers color scheme this season.
In all honesty, I never really noticed the Nike Zoom Hyperfuse 2014. When I think about sneaker style, Chris Kaman isn’t exactly a name that comes to mind, but these are pretty slick. The strong two-tone Trail Blazers color scheme used here certainly did these shoes justice. Another outstanding feature about these kicks? Chris Kaman, being the outdoorsman that he is, adopted the nickname ‘Air Sasquatch’ when he arrived in Rip City. The tongue of these shoes feature the name ‘Air Sasquatch’ printed on them. It’ll be a shame to see that that kind of Portland humor leave the Moda Center hardwood this season.
I’ll say it once, I’ll say it again; Kobe’s signature low-top kicks will always be a dependable sell in my eyes. While I often stray away from low-top basketball shoes for obvious reasons, the folks over at Nike have defied all logic, once again, with the lightweight, supportive, and gorgeous Nike Kobe X Low. These gorgeous sneakers feature some of Nike’s most recent innovative technologies, including Flyknit, Flywire, Lunarlon, and Air Zoom. If you’re a fan of low-top sneakers, you won’t want to pass a pair of these up. If you often avoid low-tops, like myself, you’ll definitely want to give these a try! I certainly hope that Napier brings these back this season, in a Trail Blazers color scheme of course.
The Nike Air Max Body U is a fairly popular shoe among big men in the NBA, and for good reason. They’re an aggressive style sneaker, perfect for those centers who deliver a mixed skill-set of agility and strength. Plumlee falls right into this category as a multi-talented 6’11” who can block shots, grab boards, and dish out some seriously impressive dimes. The Nike Air Max Body U also features some great technologies in regards to durability and stability; a key for any big man in Portland.
Tim Frazier joined Damian Lillard in wearing a Jesse Owens-inspired Black History Month shoe. While Lillard wore the BHM colorway of his own Lillard 2s, Frazier went a different route, choosing to lace up the Adidas Crazylight Boost 2.5 BHM. The cracked gold paint on the shoe represents the four gold medals that Owens won during his historical 1936 Olympic bid. The 733, printed on the tongue of the shoe, represents the bib number worn by Owens. Overall, these kicks are a great nod to a revolutionary athlete who persevered and leaped over many hurdles, no pun intended.
Performance doesn’t have to be boring. While many Jordan fans may differ from this, the Jordan Super.Fly 4 is actually one of my favorite on-court Jordan brand shoes. Maybe it’s the black webbing that fits tight atop a sleek red underlay of padding that catches my eye? Perhaps it’s the way that Jordan brand can feature comfort, performance, and fashion in one shoe thanks to their modern-day sneaker technologies? Whatever it may be, it’s going to be a shame that we won’t be seeing these clean kicks in Rip City any longer.
Although the brand is relatively new to the NBA, Evan Turner isn’t the first Trail Blazer to wear Chinese athletic-wear brand Li-Ning in Portland. Dorrell Wright, back in 2013, sported the Li-Ning brand night in, night out. While Turner has his own signature shoe under Li-Ning, it was these kicks, which Turner wore in a game against the Toronto Raptors, that caught my eye. The Way of Wade 4s, which are Dwyane Wade’s signature shoe, are as beautiful as they come, especially from an outside brand in a league dominated by Adidas, Nike, and Under Armour. Turner’s signature shoe? I’ll let you Google that for yourself.
If you’re a fan of bizarre custom designs, then these are the shoes for you! The Under Armour Micro G Lows were the Under Armour shoe to wear before Under Armour truly hit the scene, thanks to Stephen Curry. Trail Blazers rookie Jake Layman took his shoe game to a whole ‘nother level for the University of Maryland Terrapins when they took on the Connecticut Huskies at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. These lightweight sneakers aren’t, albeit interesting and unique, the prettiest shoes ever made; but that was nothing the state flag of Maryland couldn’t fix! Can we get some City of Portland flag kicks in the Moda Center, please?