• Olivier Auguste

Sneaker Culture in the Association – Part 5

QUEENS, NY – For most of us, we’re spearheading towards our next destination with laser-focused tunnel-vision. We don’t celebrate enough; a sentiment felt regularly by ESPN’s David Jacoby. We’ve reached our 5th installment discussing NBA storylines complemented by the best sneakers to hit the hardwood. We’ve also taken a moment to reflect on pop culture’s heavy influence on the game of basketball and its evolution. In regards to signature shoes, NPD and Forbes rolled out the top 5 best sellers for 2017 – LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and Michael Jordan. It’s important to note performance wear such as these signature shoes had its run as premium in-fashion statements for some time. Although brands are crafting these shoes with modern design and touch, athleisure wear dominates the culture. Retros remain in the mix, but weren’t accounted for in the run for best sellers. Let’s revisit last week’s kicks and explore the impact on the culture.

Nike LeBron 15

Photo Courtesy: IG – brkicks Nike LeBron 15 “Diamond Turf” PE/Nike LeBron 15 PE – Diana Taurasi

Honorable Mention – Nike LeBron 15 “Monarch”/Nike LeBron 15 PE

The Narrative: LeBron James continues to drive the conversation for another week. The media is constantly fussing over his mental, physical, and emotional state. Although there is plenty of truth to his word, he remains a master manipulator. His words at the podium yields media frenzy for a 24-hour circuit. He simultaneously manages psychological real-estate of his teammates and opponents alike. In Game 1, the Toronto Raptors didn’t find themselves playing to win rather playing not to lose. The Cavs never led in regulation and trailed by 10 in the 4th quarter. The Raptors missed 12 consecutive field goal attempts to close the game before losing in overtime. Despite Bron’s dismal shooting percentage, his triple-double was enough to grant them another W. He now sits behind only the Hall of Fame mogul, Magic Johnson, for second most playoff triple-doubles with 21. The Raptors hadn’t lost two consecutive games at home since the series sweep last season. LeBron James is 21-0 with a 2-0 series lead. The Raptors are 0-6 with an 0-2 series deficit [via Gold Standard]. According to ESPN, Bron has led his team in points and assists in 9 straight playoff games, it’s currently the second longest streak in NBA history. He continued to apply pressure in Game 2 finishing with 43 points, 14 assists, and 8 rebounds. This is his 4th 40-point outburst, tying his most in a single postseason. The Cavaliers’ offense erupted in the second half led by the King. He scored or assisted on 45 of the team’s 67 points, right on pace with the entire Raptors’ team with 47 points. LeBron has tormented the north for three years, it’s been an absolute nightmare. He makes it look good. With Forbes to back up the numbers, Nike unveiled another Diamond Turf colorway. Hoops legend Diana Taurasi, who’s also known to rock the best kicks, has donned a few pairs herself. The LeBron 15 is making noise in the women’s game too.

Under Armor vs Nike

Photo Courtesy: IG – slamkicks Under Armor Curry 5/Nike KD X PE

The Narrative: Steph Curry is back and he’s already staring at – whatever he looks at once the ball is released from his hands. After his left MCL strain kept him sidelined for almost 6 weeks, he looked eager to get back on the floor. The Pelicans were up 18-11 when Curry checked in the game late in the 1st quarter. Coming off a Kevin Looney screen, he sank a three as the crowd erupted in Oracle Arena fashion. There’s balance in the universe once again. Steph shot 8/15 from the field – 28 points, 7 rebounds, three steals, two assists, and 50 percent shooting from three in 27 minutes of gameplay. The Pelicans move the ball quickly, enjoy the pace, and play aggressively on and off the ball. All starters hit double figures, with AD, Holiday, and Rondo each hitting the 20-point mark. There was an intimate exchange between Draymond and Rondo, two polarizing personalities. The Warriors force you to play their game and at their pace. They’ll match what you bring, and then some. It should be considered broken news that the two-time MVP will start for Game 3 in New Orleans. He also laced up the Curry 5, a low top version at that. The Curry 4 felt like it finally caught up to speed with design and overarching feel. At first glance in this colorway, Under Armor seems to have taken a step back. We’ll see what they roll out as the playoffs continue. His notoriously-socially-awkward teammate Kevin Durant does have vibrant colorways on a nightly basis. There’s a need to be on KD X watch to take notice of other athletes suiting up in his signature. It hasn’t made as much noise as his counterparts so far, this season.


Photo Courtesy: IG – solecollector Nike Kobe 11 “Mamba Day/Nike Kobe AD Mid Custom PE

The Narrative: Watching the Boston Celtics obliterate the 76ers’ 22-point lead en-route to a Game 2 victory felt like the Monstars intro in Space Jam. Jaylen Brown was a game-time decision due to a sore hamstring that kept him sidelined for Game 1. It was his two-hand jam that capped off the Celtics’ run from a 22-point deficit. Scary Terry poured 20 points, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds alongside Jayson Tatum’s team-high 21 points. ESPN noted the Celtics outscored the 76ers 50-20 in a 16-minute stretch which is telling of the momentum swing that ultimately led to Philly’s demise. Headed into Game 2, Second Spectrum put some numbers into perspective. Joel Embiid was in the paint 12 percent of the time against the Heat where players made 36 percent of shots at the rim when he was the closest defender. He’s spent 30 percent less time in the paint in the Celtics series. Although Philly started the game hot, they fizzled out throughout the course of the game. Topic of discussion has been Ben Simmons’ 1-point performance occurring for the first time in his 88-game sample. He states it wasn’t the Celtics’ defensive scheme and rough play that limited him, but rather his own “overthinking.” History boasts loudly, teams that have lost the first two games of a best of seven series on the road have only won 6 percent of those series [ESPN/NBA].

Jordan Brand x Nike

Photo Courtesy: IG – brkicks Air Jordan XI “Win Like 82”/Nike Kyrie 1 “Warhawk” EYBL

Honorable Mention – Nike Kyrie 4 “London” PE/Nike PG 2 “Mamba Mentality”

The Narrative – Let’s talk James Harden and the Houston Rockets for a moment. The widespread MVP favorite leads the NBA with 1.24 points per direct drives going right, his “weak hand.” He’s also led the league in top of the key 3-pointers made with 107, don’t go under the screen and please stop the ball. He’s top 2 in the playoffs so far in PPG, PER, and 3-PT FG. He’s also top 10 in assists. He is an expert manipulator of moves and referees, with an uncanny ability to draw fouls. You must make it uncomfortable for James Harden. Harass him off the ball, and make it difficult for him to catch. His hefty 6’5’’ frame provides leverage in actually getting the basketball, but he doesn’t like putting up a fight for it. He scored 2 points when guarded by Utah’s Exum – 0-7 FG, 2-2 FT. Utah knocked down 15 3-point FGs compared to Houston’s 10. Donovan Mitchell has kept up with himself early in the second round. He is the first rookie to reach 200 total points in his first 8 playoff games since Kareem, Wilt, and Elgin Baylor – esteemed company. With the series tied at 1-1, game three is set to tipoff Friday evening at 8:30 p.m. The Utah Jazz have been consistent on both ends of the floor since the All-Star break. The Houston Rockets will put up threes, and fear not living or dying at its mercy.

Heavy Heat x Nightly Notables:

Photo Courtesy: IG – brkicks Adidas Harden Vol. 2 PE – James Harden

Photo Courtesy: IG – brkicks Air Jordan V “Oregon” – PJ Tucker

Photo Courtesy: IG – slamkicks Nike Off White Hyperdunks – Sue Bird

Photo Courtesy: IG – slamkicks Air Jordan XI Concord – Michael Jordan

Photo Courtesy: IG – brkicks Nike Kobe 8 – Demar DeRozan

Photo Courtesy: IG – slamkicks Air Jordan XIV “DMP” – CJ Miles

We Salute You – Vashtie

Photo Courtesy: IG – Vashtie

Like art, success is vulnerable to perception and interpretation. Vashtie has always been mist underneath the door. Her presence is felt, and her influence admired. She’s been at the helm of your favorite brands; streetwear, music, fashion, and art. Her impact speaks volumes far and wide. A filmmaker, artist, designer, creative consultant, DJ, style icon, model, and director – she’s elapsed several lifetimes in already. She’s already fancied herself in the sports realm, her career leading to opportunities with heralded Jordan Brand. In 2010, she became the first woman to design a Jordan sneaker under the Violette silhouette, her own brand. The empowering campaign lifted women, reminding us “Sometimes the king is woman.” There’s an overwhelming wave of new talent emerging across all platforms and industries. One that was predicated by moving figures within the culture. The sentiment has carried through years later. On the 20th anniversary of Spike Lee’s telling hoops classic, He Got Game, Bleacher Report collaborated with the decorated tastemaker Vashtie and rising WNBA star Jewel Lloyd for the She Got Game trailer. Lloyd’s character, Faith, has all the hype reminiscent of famed character Jesus Shuttlesworth. There was a slew of cameos including Ros Gold-Onwude, Bobbito Garcia, Cappie Pondexter, Markelle Fultz, Shaq, Steve Nash, ESPN’s Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser, Rachel Nichols, Filay, Young MA, Hot 97’s Ebro Darden, and Candace Parker. Each provided their high praise for the phenome. Bleacher Report made clear to note Vashtie’s all-lady cast and team. They brought the vision to life. Faith is about representation. She, like Vashtie, puts the world on notice. She reminds us the ladies can hoop and are leaders in sports, fashion, music, art, business, film – anything they choose. The world is theirs.

What did you wear this week? What did you hoop in?

Much Love,



#NBA #SneakerCulture #NBASneakers #PopCulture #OlivierAuguste