With the NBA's summer league in the books, it's almost time to focus our attention on the 2014-2015 season. And, as with any NBA season, what players will be wearing on their feet is almost as important as how they perform on the court. Almost.
The KD VI ruled the hardwood last season, but the past is the past. With the LeBron XII on the way, the KD VII already out and Kobe Bryant returning to sport the Kobe 9, we chatted with John Gotty, founder of The Smoking Section, and George Kiel, associate editor at Nice Kicks, about the KD VII, how Nike can fix the LeBron line, and much more.
The KD VI dominated in terms of popularity on court last season? What shoe will take its place this year?
John Gotty: I think both Kobe and Durant have models that will be seen on the court more often than LeBron's. The lowtop version of the Kobe 9 should attract more than its fair share of hoopers, just because of its endless options, ranging from material choices to the variety of colors. But I give KD's the edge over Kobe's because of the colorways (and their well-told stories), and the fact that many hoopers want a shoe seen as eye-catching and edgy, which the strap (on the KD VII) provides.
George Kiel: I think it's going to go back to the Kobe 9. With the Flyknit version, I really think that's going to take off as the most popular shoe. For the past three years, the KD IV, V and VI have been the most popular shoes, but I think it returns back to the Kobe 9. I've being seeing it a lot towards the end of last year and over the summer.
After a somewhat disastrous run with the LeBron XI, Nike gets a fresh start with the XII. What do you expect from it?
Gotty: LeBron's sneaker line will always be the most coveted because it receives a ton of marketing that hawks it as the best, and people often equate price with how good a product is. But I think both Kobe and Durant have models that will be seen on the court more often than LeBron's.
Kiel: I think the XII is going to do really well, just for the simple fact that I think Nike understood the flaws they had with the XI as it pertains to what LeBron is comfortable with. I think it will be one of the better performing shoes of any shoe on the market. They took the time to understand more of what LeBron wants, and they focused on comfort. But I also think they have a lot of storyline with his return back to Cleveland. LeBron's shoe always kills it on the court. I think the 12 will be more comfortable than the 11, 10 and 9.
The KD VI was all the rage last year. How do you think the recently released KD VII will fare?
Gotty: I don't know how the KD VII will do. That will ultimately depend on if players prefer the strap or not. I saw a lot of KD 4s, another model with the strap, on the court during their time, so I think the 7s will do fine.
Kiel: I think it's going to be popular but not as much as the VI. I think people really gravitate toward the low top these days, and honestly at the Kick and Roll event, I saw 60 percent of the players bring out a KD VI, so that one is still king as far as Durant's signatures right now. The 7 is going to take a while for people to latch on to, but that 35,000-degree colorway (pictured above) is pretty popular. I saw that a lot. As long as Nike continues to be creative with colorways and the inspiration for them, it will catch on.
George, what's your sleeper sneaker for the upcoming season?
Kiel: The Nike Zoom Crusader is a shoe that people I think sleep on. Paul George and James Harden wore it. It's a low top and it's very comfortable. The sock liner and the lockdown are awesome on it. I'm looking forward to seeing the Nike Hyperposite II and how it plays, because the Hyperposite is one of my favorite shoes that I've ever worn.
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