SAN DIEGO — When Roy Williams first showed his team the custom-made combat boots the coaching staff planned to don at the Carrier Classic, forward John Henson envisioned his coach wearing them underneath his usual well-tailored suit.
Instead Henson was pleasantly surprised to see the coaches opt for a more casual look with blue polo shirts and Jumpman-brand military-style khaki cargo pants tucked into the top of the boots.
"I laughed. It looked good," Henson said. "Coach Williams looked like a little sergeant out there and (strength and conditioning coordinator (Jonas Sahratian) looked like one of the troops. That's something that's really funny to me."
The idea for the combat boots came from a collaboration between Nike, assistant coach Jerod Haase and video coordinator Eric Hoots. Once Williams saw them, he requested Nike create some matching pants for the staff to wear.
It was also Williams' idea to wear the pants tucked into the top of the boots because that's the style military servicemen have adopted. Williams viewed it as a show of respect and admiration for the sacrifices made by the troops.
"We were saying we'd like to be like you," Williams said. "We're providing entertainment. They're providing a way of life that we enjoy in America. We're providing something that can make you smile and feel good. They're making us feel safe when we go to bed at night. I'd love to be in a position to be that important, and yet I don't think we tell them enough how important they are."