Browse all

The forgotten NBA signature shoes

From Starbury to Dada Spree: do you remember all the kicks?

The forgotten NBA signature shoes From Starbury to Dada Spree: do you remember all the kicks?

According to this article published on Forbes in August 2019, Klay Thompson ranks fourteenth among the NBA players with the richest technical sponsorship contracts related to shoes. Steph Curry's "twin" - fourth in this special ranking thanks to the 20 million a season that Under Armor will guarantee him until 2024 - entered into a contract for two million dollars a year shortly before the start of the 2014/2015 season. Chinese brand Anta. After the success of the "KT1" and "KT2" models in 2016, the agreement was renewed for a total of 80 million dollars in the following 10 years: a figure higher than the 6 million per year that Li Ning guaranteed from 2012 to 2018 in Dwyane Wade to convince him to leave behind the memorable parenthesis with Jordan, before the renewal for life of almost 12 million per season.

It is not the first time in history that second-rate brands manage to carve out an important role in the signature shoes market. The period between the 90s and the 00s in particular produced models of absolute cult without their iconicity necessarily being linked to brands such as Nike or adidas. We have chosen ten that ended inexplicably on the back burner.

10 - Converse All-Star Rodman      

After leaving Nike in 1997, Dennis Rodman signed a sponsorship deal with Converse. The first model, the "All-Star Rodman", had its distinctive feature in the logo, readapted following the lines of one of the most recognizable tattoos of "The Worm". This is the reason why the subsequent "All-Star D-Rod" did not have the same success as the progenitor: too anonymous and mainstream in its lines and coloring to reflect one of the most unique personalities ever.

9 – FILA Webber    

Released in two color variants - white / blue and white / red - in 1997 at a much lower price than the competition, the FILA "Webber" were considered the representation of how and how much the players understood the impact of the sneakers on the inside a socio-cultural context in continuous evolution: «One of the problems I had when I signed with Nike was that they sold shoes of 130 dollars to kids who, in the neighborhood, ended up stealing each other, feeding the juvenile crime», said "C-Webb" himself when it came to explaining his signature with the Italian company.

8 - Starbury  

A principle that inspired, in 2006, the birth of the "Starbury", the first signature shoes at discount prices - $ 14 and 98 cents - launched through the Steve & Barry's clothing chain and that Stephon Marbury will wear until the end of his career. Having reached one million pairs sold during the first six months, convinced the Knicks player to launch the "Starbury 2" as early as 2007: the fame was that of a perfect shoe for a casual style off the pitch which, however, created quite a few problems on the parquet because of the relative quality of the materials used. In 2009 the economic crisis caused the end of production: the line would not see the light until 2015 when, exploiting its connection with China, Marbury released the "Starbury 3". The price? Just under 30 dollars.

7 – Converse Wade 1

When he was chosen with pick #5 at Draft 2003, Dwyane Wade did not yet have a technical sponsorship contract with the industry giants. To take advantage of it, for a return in style to the scene, was Converse who offered him a three-year contract for almost 1.5 million dollars. The first signature shoe, the "Wade 1" was launched at the beginning of the 2005/2006 season. Perfect timing: to that model, in fact, the Marquette phenomenon will tie the triumphant ride that will lead the Miami Heat to win the first NBA title in its history. The following three years weren't as lucky: the 2, 3 and 4 models of the "Wade" were widely criticized for comfort and design, so much so that Dwyane pushed back to "Wade 1" in the 2008/2009 season, after the 4 was been worn only on one occasion. The subsequent agreement with Jordan did not meet the expected success in terms of marketing, enough to push the player to sign a contract with Li Ning in 2012.

6 – LA Gear Catapult     

Released at the beginning of the 90s, the LA Gear "Catapult" worn by Karl Malone represented a sort of enhanced version of the Nike "Air", with the "Power Feedback" system supporting a classic but effective design in terms of shape and size. Of all the colors available - including a yellow-violet on a white background clearly inspired by the Lakers and the "Weapon" that Converse created for Magic Johnson - the total white sported in Barcelona with the Dream Team remains the most recognized and recognizable today.

5 – Dada Spree

The connection between basketball and rap and hip hop culture was brought to a new level by Latrell Sprewell, thanks to the partnership with Dada. The "Spree" of 2004, also called "Supreme Spinners", inspired by the design of the rappers' lowered convertible cars, featured on the outside the miniature of a chromed alloy rim made with the collaboration of Lexani Wheels. Despite the general hype, the price of $ 110 did not contribute to the commercial success of a model that is however unique. In a tweet at the end of September 2017 Sprewell announced the return of the "Supreme Spinners" by posting a photo of the original model: to date there is no news on the matter and the tweet appears to come from a suspended account.

4 – Apex Mailman

The 90s in the form of sneakers, the plastic representation of the temporary success of a brand that, in addition to the feet of the best power forward of all time, was also found on the uniforms of some of the best college basketball teams, including Arkansas and Kentucky. Timeless design, unmistakable style, practically impossible to find on the net at a discount price: in 2012, on the occasion of Karl's forty-ninth birthday, the news spread that on eBay a couple of "Mailman" had been sold for $ 2,500.

3 – Reebok Zig Slash

John Wall already had a $ 25 million contract for five years with Reebok when he was called by the Washington Wizards with the first choice at the 2010 Draft, so he tried to get back on the map after the glories of the "Question" era at the feet of Allen Iverson. The "Zig Slash" debuted at Wall's feet already in the rookie season, implementing the "Zigtech" system directly from the running models. An unfortunate choice: the shoe proved unsuitable for the stresses of the parquet and the sudden lateral movements of a player of Wall's physical structure, who had numerous foot problems so much that he also had to stop wearing the "Zig Slash Encore" that the company Boston had hurriedly released to try to remedy his mistakes. In 2013 Reebok left NBA basketball to return to focus on the world of fitness and Wall signed with adidas.

2 – FILA Grant Hill 1

The exception to the rule that FILA wanted was not able to produce aesthetically memorable sneakers. The "Grant Hill 1" did not present any significant innovation from a technological or stylistic point of view, yet this did not prevent the sale of a million and a half pairs. Still today it is the best signature shoe ever produced by the Italian brand, an absolute "must have" for every self-respecting sneakerhead.

1 – Ewing 33 Hi

"If you make a proportion with the earnings of 1990 compared to today, it is as if you had sold the current consideration of LeBron and Kobe," said David Falk in an interview with GQ in 2015. In 1989, when the center of the Knicks decided to found Ewing Athletics after the end of his contract with adidas, doubts were many. But they soon ended up swept away by the $ 100 million earned in 1990 thanks to the "33 Hi": an iconic model that had immediate association with the player who wore its strength. The autograph in relief and the 33 in plain sight on the heel did the rest. After the release of 20 models between 1990 and 1996, in 2012 Ewing Athletics reintroduced the "33 Hi" almost by popular acclaim: "Everywhere people go ask me for those shoes: it is fantastic that they are still all like that today interested in my brand" said Ewing.