NBA players enjoy a lot of luxuries. Apart from getting to play one of the best sports in the world at the highest level, getting paid a ton of money, and travelling the world, they get an endless supply of new game shoes. That sounds awesome, doesn’t it?
Getting to wear some of the coolest looking shoes out there every game is every kid’s dream. If you’re someone who played the sport as a kid, you know that every kid would get just one new pair of shoes every season. NBA players, on the other hand, have the option to wear new shoes in every game.
However, that doesn’t mean that they wear new shoes for every match. Some players claim to wear the same shoes till they break down, others change their shoes every three to four games, it varies from player to player, but there is a lot of thought that goes into changing shoes see below what different NBA players had to say on this matter.
Matt Barnes ( Los Angeles Clippers )
The former LA clippers player matt Barnes says that he uses the same shoes for two or three games at the most because they start sleeping after that.
“…growing up; you have to wear the same pair of shoes the whole season; we’re kind of spoiled in that way. Once you go pro, they’re almost endless.”
Norris Cole ( New Orleans Pelicans )
Noris Cole says that he likes the tight fit of a new shoe.
“I wear the same pair of shoes for two games at most. I go through 50 pairs in a single season.”
Justin Holiday ( golden state various)
Holiday is another one of those players that like to change their shoes quite often. He says that after a week, the shoe loosens up and gets too much space in it.
“I like my shoes tighter; when they’re new, they feel a little tighter. And my black ones get really scuffed in the toes too, so I don’t like how that looks.”
Isaiah Thomas ( Boston Celtics)
“I can go four games with the same shoes at the most, they always rip from the side, but I generally go two to three games depending on how many minutes I stay on the court.
Jarrett Jack ( Brookly nets )
Jerrett Jack says that he always has to keep his shoes fresh.
“I’d probably go four or five games then sign them and throw them in the crowd. I need my shoes to fit really tightly, and after you’ve played a couple of games in the same shoes, they start to become loose and get some scuffs on them too. I’ve always gotta keep them fresh; you know how that goes. “
Klay Thompson (Golden state warriors)
Thompson, unlike some of the other players, is someone who doesn’t change his shoes unless they wear out.
“I switch shoes about every 12 games. They just wear out.”
CJ Miles ( Indiana Pacers)
Miles is another one of those guys who likes to wear his shoes for a longer period of time.
“I wear them till they get soft. That’s when I change them when they get soft; that’s my biggest thing. I really don’t like the feel of brand new stiff shoes. Most of the new pairs just sit in my locker.
Rodney Stuckey (Indiana Pacers )
“I wear my shoes for around ten games. When they get loose and stretchy, I know it’s time to change them. I keep them for a while; then I’ll pass them out or give them to some kids.”
Anderson Varejao ( Cleveland cavaliers )
Varejao is one of those guys who doesn’t change his shoes until they break out.
“I could go for 20 or 25 games, maybe more if they don’t break. I believe in wearing the same shoes as long as they hold up; it’s probably because of the way I grew up and had to wear the same pair for a long time.
Every player has their own preference; some prefer wearing new shoes every game, some prefer changing their kicks every other game, while some use the same pair of shoes until it breaks out; it varies from player to player.
However, you might wonder how NBA players, despite running and jumping on the court game after game, don’t get blisters from the new shoes. Is it because they are tough athletes and thus immune to the effects that normal people have from breaking into new shoes, or is there something else that we are missing? There is a very simple answer to that, it all boils down to technology. The shoes that these athletes use may look like normal shoes, but that is not the case at all; they are far from normal.
These special shoes are designed specifically for each player using different technologies like 3-D motion-capture cameras, foot-pressure plates, body-mapping software, and electrocardiograph machines. Because these custom made shoes are tailored specifically for each player, so there is no uncomfortable breaking in period.
Nike being the biggest player in the basketball shoe market, has a unique way of designing custom shoes for their signature athletes. First of all, the athletes get a visit to the Nike sports research lab where their feet are scanned, and all their movements are mapped to gauge how they move and where they put pressure when they’re on the court.
Such research facilities are not unique to Nike; major brands like Adidas and Under Armour also have similar research facilities. However, these custom data gathering techniques are not available at the customer level.
What do the athletes get out of changing their shoes so regularly?
In a recent interview, the kit manager for Denver Nuggets said that on average, each player goes through at least 50 pairs of shoes a season, but we already know how often NBA players change their shoes during a season, but the question is why? Why do they need to change their shoes so often? What drives this need to switch kicks every other game?
Some players might have political or charitable reasons; Wearing shoes to give a political or personal message or even for raising awareness and money for charity. Many players sign their shoes and hand them off to local kids after a game.
So with an endless supply of new game shoes and the benefits associated with wearing new shoes on the court, it’s no wonder that most NBA athletes do.
How different types of shoes affect performance?
There is a reason why NBA athletes take their game shoes so seriously, not only do they give the athletes a competitive edge they also protect the athletes from injuries. That is why the majority of NBA players have custom made shoes that fit their style.
NBA players take basketball shoes to the next level, but if we were to talk about some of the most general types of basketball shoes, we have the high-top, low-top, and mid-top sneakers. Let’s try to explore each one of these types in more detail and see what effects they have on the athletes’ performance and physical health.
High top sneakers are heavy and provide the athletes with a lot of cushioning around the ankle. The players that jump for most of the game prefer wearing these because of the ankle support and shock absorption. These are best for the guys who have a bigger stature and require more support. However, these shoes aren’t the best for running fast.
Nike LeBron 13 is an example of high top sneakers. This is quite an expensive pair of shoes, but you will find it is worth the money. It keeps the arch of your foot comfortable and allows you to be more flexible.
These shoes give the player the ability to move faster and quicker, but that doesn’t mean that you compromise on the stability. While they aren’t as good for jumping as the high top sneakers, they still do a pretty good job. What’s unique about these shoes is that they are great for short bursts of speed and an average amount of jumping, so you get the whole package within one shoe. This is a hybrid shoe that is best for an all-around player.
Nike PG 3 is a great example of mid-top shoes. This shoe is famous for its versatility because it is great for all types of players. It is designed after Paul George’s style of play who plays both ends of the court.
Low top sneakers
These are the lightest weight sneakers and give you the least amount of ankle support of all the shoes. These shoes are the best for running; they allow you to be quick on your feet. They are best for a player who is playing guard because they need extra speed and agility and can easily give up some ankle support for that.
The Under Armour Curry 3 Zero III is an example of low top sneakers. This shoe uses synthetic leather, which breaks in really well and provides a very comfortable fit. It comes with extra cushioning, which provides great support. The athletes that are lighter and need a quick response prefer this shoe. However, these shoes don’t really provide a lot of protection from impact. So they aren’t the best for jumping.
Popular shoe brands and the NBA players signed with them.
Compared to other leagues, shoes are a big part of the NBA both on and off the court. NBA players have some of the most lucrative apparel contracts in all sports. Let’s explore some of the most popular shoe brands and the players that are signed with them.
China is one of the biggest markets for the NBA outside of the US, which is why we are seeing Chinese brands make a strong push to sign NBA talent. Li-Ning is a popular Chinese brand that has signed some of the NBA’s best such as Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade. If we talk about some of the current players, Li-Ning has Atlanta hawks’ small forward, Evan Turner, Glen Robinson III, and CJ Maccolum.
Puma has been making a big push recently to get in the door of the basketball shoe industry, signing top prospects ahead of the draft. Some of the most popular players signed with Puma right now include Kyle Kuzma, Marvin Bagley III, and Deandre Ayton.
Under Armour is one of the top athletic brands in the US. They don’t have too many NBA athletes, but they have a couple of big names like Kent Bazemore, Seth Curry, Will Barton, Joel Embiid, and Stephen Curry.
Air Jordan is under the umbrella of Nike but still signs players separately. They have players like Russel Westbrook, Victor Oladipo, Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler, and Luka Doncic.
Adidas has some of the NBA’s best and has hit big with their young talent signings. They have players like Donovan Mitchel, Brandon Ingram, Trae Young, Damian Lillard, James Harden.
Nike is by far the top shoe brand in the NBA world. Nike has some of the very best athletes in the NBA, like Karl-Anthony town, Paul George, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Giannis Antekounmpo.
How much do players get paid to wear their signature shoes?
Now that we understand how NBA athletes get their custom-made shoes, let’s delve deeper into another question that people generally ask, which is, do the players make money from wearing their signature shoes?
If we talk about the giants of the game, the best of the best, the superstars like Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Kyrie Irving, etc., they generally wear their signature shoes, designed and manufactured by the brand that they are signed with. Those shoes are then sold using the athlete’s name. On top of all the free shoes and merchandise, this makes them millions of dollars a season. Labron is signed with Nike, and it is said that he will make north of a billion dollars when the deal ends.
However, not all the players enjoy these perks; if we talk about the all-stars like Conley, towns, and Simmons, they don’t necessarily get their own shoes, but they do get paid to represent specific brands and get all the shoes that they want. However, they don’t make 10’s of millions of dollars from these deals. At most, they will make somewhere around 200k to 700k a year on their contracts.
If you talk about the rest of the league, they don’t get paid for representing a brand, but they do get shoe deals that take care of all the shoes that they could possibly need.
I think it’s worth mentioning that the highest shoe deal earner is Michael Jordan, who made more than three times what Lebron James makes with a figure of more than $100 million in a year.
Some players would tell you that they do it simply for comfort and performance; they are, after all, paid millions of dollars to play at the highest level, and expecting their shoes to grip when they cut is only fair, plus no matter how good the shoes are they start losing the grip after 2 or 3 three games, an average person might not notice this change, but NBA players change their shoes so often that they notice even the tiniest little things immediately. Michel Jordan, for this exact reason, would often change his shoes at half time.