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Performance Basketball Sneakers Are All But Dead Thanks to Runners

Time:2017-07-14 18:41Shoes websites Click:

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One of my favorite things to do when watching a basketball game is to check out what shoes all the players are rocking. I’ve come to a point in my life where my first impression of a player is often based entirely on the shoes they’ve got on - aka PJ Tucker is essentially the greatest basketball player to have ever lived.

Sure, a big part of it was being able to see what audacious retro choices players could make - full grain leather and that front-loaded zoom? Is that boy crazy? - but there’s more to it. Basketball sneakers come with enough functional elements that they often speak volumes of the player wearing them. Kevin Durant needs mobility and traction, but could also use all the cushion his lanky frame can handle. Kobe was all about low-to-the ground lock-down and minimal cushioning for sharper cuts. And LeBron? The man basically wears a factory’s worth of tech on his feet and they still seem to just barely keep up with his movements.

The performance element was fascinating, albeit a bit on the design/ engineering side. Sadly, though, it’s the shoes that epitomize this that are very quickly dying out. The most recent NBA season saw LeBron and Kyrie sell the most sneakers. James’s Soldier model has been a boon to the Swoosh while Kyrie’s third signature model has been doing better in stores than even Nike executives expected. Players like Curry and Harden round out the top 4, for a myriad of reasons. The Harden 1’s Boost-heavy yet guard-centric design, the Kyrie 3’s minimalism and low price point, Curry’s popularity not really budging, and LeBron because...well, because of LeBron.

But the performers are losing out to a wave that brands like adidas have been riding for over two years now. Runners, long held as a category as niche as basketball sneakers, are all retailers seem to be able to move. Even retro Jordan releases are sitting longer than a standard NMD drop. It’s not the modern performance running shoes either. In fact, purpose-built runners (think the latest ASICS or Saucony runners) are having a tougher go at it than basketball shoes.

The reasons are simple. Sneakers are, and have been for quite some time, all about getting to the casual/ lifestyle end of the market. Adidas is a great example of what can happen when a company realizes this. Though they’ve rolled out a significant number of lines from their basketball branch, they’re struggling in this regard, with Nike absolutely blowing them away here. Yet and still, the overall picture continues to look rosy for the Three Stripes. That has a lot to do with the fact that they dominate the casual sector and are selling NMD’s and Ultra Boost models by the truckload. This goes without even considering the headway that adidas Originals is making with regards to their older models such as the Superstar and Stan Smith.

Simply put, sneaker brands will focus on what makes them more money. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, it looks like the court gives way to the club. Time will tell if this affects the overall level of imagination and sophistication of performance basketball sneakers.


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