Which player had the best sneakers in the NBA during Week 20?
While some players circle team matchups on the calendar, P.J. Tucker is known to also circle specific cities. He’ll plan to pack rare exclusives made for the University of Oregon in Portland, haul a stash of limited Kobe Bryant classics when in Los Angeles or break out more vibrant and colorful kicks for the bright lights of Miami.
Still, there’s no comparison to the aura of Madison Square Garden for Tucker.
“They deserve better,” he jokingly said of his sneaker rotation.
As he faced off against the New York Knicks at the start of the week, the Houston Rockets center kicked off the game in a ridiculously rare pair of the Nike LeBron 8, designed a decade ago by New York native and longtime music staple DJ Clark Kent.
While his DJ skills and decades-long run as one of the pillars of the New York music community brought him his fame, Kent is equally known in the sneaker community for his endless love of the Air Force 1, and his multi-thousand pair sneaker collection. He’s also designed a variety of some of the most sought after sneaker collaborations in the industry.
Originally made in 2010, Kent’s all-denim and gum bottom edition of the LeBron 8 has long been a favorite of collectors. Only 40 pairs of the James Dean-inspired colorway were produced, fetching as much as $4,000 on the off chance that they do pop up on the secondary market, making for a decent first half flex for Tucker.
Tucker then broke out the Off-White edition of the Air Jordan V, the most recent frenzied Jordan retro designed by Virgil Abloh, making Tucker the only player across the league to wear the stylized update to the original black colorway this season.
When the shoe first released in 1990, Spike Lee was a major component of the entire campaign, from the sneaker-filled bedroom print ads to the memorable commercials. Coincidentally, it was throughout Monday evening’s Knicks versus Rockets game that the current standoff between Lee and Madison Square Garden officials began, after the four-decades-long season-ticket holder was required to use a different arena entrance.
Not coincidentally, when Chris Paul and the Oklahoma City Thunder came to town later in the week, the longtime friend of Lee’s had a tongue-in-cheek sneaker scribble atop his CP3.12s, writing “Do The Right Thing!” along the shoe’s white midsole.
“My man, Spike,” Paul confirmed to media after the game.
After declaring on ESPN’s First Take that he wouldn’t be attending any Knicks games for the remainder of the season, Lee was once again missing from his typical courtside seats for the Thunder game, costing Paul a chance to catch up with his fellow Jordan Brand ambassador.
“I’ve known Spike for a while,” Paul said. “I had spoken to him a couple of days ago and looked forward to him being at the game to watch me play, because I hadn’t played the last two years. In 15 years, I might have played eight times. I’ve missed a lot of games [at the Garden].”
Elsewhere in the league, LA Clippers center Montrezl Harrell continued to showcase his wide rotation of Reeboks, with the excitement of his recent endorsement deal with the brand still fueling his footwear through the remainder of the season.
Harrell was spotted in a “prototype” edition of the Reebok Question, originally released in 2016 for the 20th anniversary of Allen Iverson’s iconic first signature sneaker. Designed by Reebok while Iverson was still in college, the hope that pitching him his own sneaker would help to seal the deal made for one of the most impactful signings in industry history.
Reebok and Iverson are once again celebrating their partnership, and Iverson’s amateur days, by launching a landmark “Origins” program earlier this week that will be paying for the college application fees of all 409 senior students at Iverson’s Bethel High School in Virginia. Students from around the country also can apply on the Reebok website to have their application fees covered.
“Nothing should limit you from applying to any school you want to consider,” Iverson said.
The Hall of Fame guard often credits his transition from Bethel High to Georgetown as being a catalyst for achieving his dreams. Now, he is looking to help out in providing a similar hope to students back home.
“By working with Reebok to cover the application costs of rising seniors at Bethel High, I want the next generation of game-changers to see college as a route to success, whether they want to be an artist or a doctor,” Iverson added.
Like Harrell, another Klutch Sports Agency client also landed a unique sneaker deal this month, as Draymond Green became just the second NBA player to sign with Converse. He had been with Nike for the first seven years of his career.
“When you look at the history of the Converse brand, it’s tough, it’s rugged, and I think I fit that well,” Green said. “I also see it as rugged and tough, but then also sleek. It has this coolness to the brand. With that, it gives you a lot of different angles and areas to work in.”
As part of the brand’s continued relaunch into the performance basketball space, Green will be featured across brand campaigns for hoops and lifestyle products. Though currently out with knee soreness, Green debuted the company’s new G4 sneaker in a colorful low-top look. Once back on court, Green is expected to debut the high-top version, while continuing to push the century-old brand’s archive models during his arena entries.
“The basketball history runs really deep, so being able to tap into the history of the brand, retelling those stories and bringing that alive, there’s a lot of fun things that we can do with the brand that I’m looking forward to,” he said.
As the Lakers and Clippers are set to face off later Sunday (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET), both LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard can be expected to break out new editions of their namesake sneakers.
Already this week, both were seen in strong pairs, as James surprised with an original 2009 pair of his LeBron 7 model.
After wearing his debut New Balance signature model in recent weeks, Leonard switched back to the brand’s OMN1S sneaker, donning a gradient fading “Sundown” theme that speaks to the hard work required late in the night to reach the heights of your hoop dreams.
Check out the best sneakers spotted around the league in this week’s overview, and be sure to vote for your favorite pair in our poll below. For real-time updates on sneaker culture and NBA kicks, follow @SneakerCenter on Instagram.
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