Kicks fix: The shoes of Team USA

Nick DePaula of The Vertical

While representing their country on a global stage as ambassadors of the world’s most talented league is most certainly the priority, there’s no mistaking the fact that every Olympics provides its star athletes with an unprecedented marketing platform.

Nike has long utilized the Summer Games to introduce new innovations in uniforms and footwear, and this summer will be no different. After turning some heads by blocking out the competitor-branded sneakers worn by Team USA players Kyle Lowry, Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson in the official team portrait, Nike has once again made its presence felt on this year’s team with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Paul George and Draymond Green headlining the group.

Here’s the lowdown on the sneaker situation for every member of the U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team, which faces Australia on Wednesday night.

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Kevin Durant’s Nike KD9. (Getty)
Kevin Durant’s Nike KD9. (Getty)

Kevin Durant: Nike KD9
In recent years, Nike positioned top signature athletes LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Durant separately, and launched a new shoe for each player at different times of the season. James has typically been featured at the start of each NBA season in October, while Kobe’s shoe has utilized Christmas and All-Star Weekend as launch points. For his past three sneakers, Durant’s shoe has launched during the offseason in the summer months, which hasn’t necessarily resulted in great sales.

This year, Durant can take advantage of the Olympics to boost his new KD9 shoe. He’s the only signature player with a new model launching during the Summer Games, and his ninth shoe features a flexible Flyknit upper, a full-length visible Zoom Air cushioning unit and a price point that’s $30 less than last year’s steep price of $180.

Durant is one of the longest-tenured Nike athletes on the Team USA roster, signing with the Swoosh as a rookie in 2007. He passed up an adidas offer that was $10 million richer, opting to sign a seven-year, $60 million deal with Nike. When that deal was set to expire in 2014, he entertained a lengthy courting process from Under Armour that included a 10-year, $285 million offer. Durant ultimately stayed with Nike, signing for slightly less than the Under Armour offer, but still carrying on his signature series and featured legacy with Nike, with whom he’s under contract until 2024.

Draymond Green’s Nike Zoom Clear Out. (Getty)
Draymond Green’s Nike Zoom Clear Out. (Getty)

Draymond Green: Nike Zoom Clear Out
As an unheralded second-round pick out of Michigan State, Green didn’t have many endorsement suitors, opting for a modest shoe deal with Nike that provided him with free sneakers and product comps. Since then, he’s become an All-Star on the championship-winning Warriors and has been elevated in marketing campaigns for several of Nike’s top team shoes.

During the Olympics, Green is the featured player wearing the new Nike Zoom Clear Out, a model meant for players of all positions on the court. The shoe’s design has some unique quirks reminiscent of Green’s brash attitude, with a backward facing Swoosh logo and an aggressive collar silhouette.

Harrison Barnes’ adidas Crazy Bounce. (Getty)
Harrison Barnes’ adidas Crazy Bounce. (Getty)

Harrison Barnes: adidas Crazy Bounce
After wearing Nike’s Kobe models and Air Jordans during his two years at North Carolina, Barnes surprised many in the industry when he signed a shoe deal with adidas. His initial deal as part of the 2012 draft class paid him around $300,000 per year, and he recently agreed to a four-year extension that is expected to double his endorsement earnings.

Barnes is hoping to utilize the Olympics and his new featured role on the Dallas Mavericks next season to increase his marketing profile. For now, he’ll be wearing adidas’ new Crazy Bounce sneaker, a $100 shoe aimed at value retail stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Klay Thompson’s Anta KT1. (Getty)
Klay Thompson’s Anta KT1. (Getty)

Klay Thompson: Anta KT1
Thompson, the only player on the Team USA roster not wearing Nike or adidas, will be looking to leverage the global scale of the Olympics to further his personal brand in China, where he has a featured signature shoe with Chinese brand Anta.

After wearing Nike during his first three years in the league, Thompson passed up offers from stateside brands in the $700,000 range to ink an endorsement deal with Anta that pays him $2 million per year.

The Anta KT1 takes inspiration from a striking eagle’s wing after the brand’s designer watched footage of Thompson driving the lane and soaring for a tomahawk dunk. Thompson has been rotating between both low and mid-cut versions of the shoe, which also features patriotic star patterns and custom logos throughout.

DeMarcus Cousins’ Nike Zoom Clear Out. (Getty)
DeMarcus Cousins’ Nike Zoom Clear Out. (Getty)

DeMarcus Cousins: Nike Zoom Clear Out & Hyperdunk 2016
Cousins will man the paint in two of Nike’s top team shoes throughout the tournament and will likely switch between the two models on an almost game-by-game basis.

After signing a four-year shoe deal with Nike as a rookie in 2010 that paid him just north of $250,000 per year, Cousins signed a four-year extension in 2014 for twice that amount. He’ll continue to receive custom colorways featuring his “DMC15” logo once the upcoming season begins. He’ll be one of the more prominently featured Nike big men in the league, enjoying the occasional limited regional release of his Kings colored sneakers.

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/4912/" data-ylk="slk:Jimmy Butler">Jimmy Butler</a>’s Air Jordan 31. (Getty)
Jimmy Butler’s Air Jordan 31. (Getty)

Jimmy Butler: Jordan Ultra.Fly & Air Jordan 31
After wearing adidas during his first three years in the NBA, Butler took substantially less money in 2014 to sign with Jordan Brand, which he had worn in college at Marquette. Adidas was said to have offered an extension worth $400,000 per year, but Butler signed with Jordan for “75 percent less,” said his agent, Happy Walters.

Butler was the NBA Most Improved Player the next season and became a breakout star in Chicago, so he’s on a shoe deal worth far less than his market value. Regardless, Butler isn’t complaining because he’s become one of the featured players to wear the brand’s statement level Air Jordan shoe. He’s even had his own collection of logo apparel released in Chicago.

He’ll be wearing the new Air Jordan 31 throughout the Olympics, making him one of the few players other than Jordan himself to wear the brand’s newest annual game shoe in the Summer Games, joining Chris Paul and Amar’e Stoudemire before him.

Kyle Lowry’s adidas Crazylight Boost 2016. (Getty)
Kyle Lowry’s adidas Crazylight Boost 2016. (Getty)

Kyle Lowry: adidas Crazylight Boost 2016
Early in his career as he sought to find his place in the league, Lowry initially bounced around between low-value shoe deals with adidas, Nike and Chinese brand Peak.

As he emerged as a quality point guard after the 2013-14 season, Lowry signed again with adidas in the summer of 2014 that made him the headlining point guard for the brand’s new Crazylight Boost franchise. He’s been an All-Star each season since and helped lead the resurgent Toronto Raptors into the playoffs.

Throughout the Olympics and this upcoming NBA season, Lowry will be wearing custom colors of the Crazylight Boost 2016 shoe, each featuring his “KL7” logo on the tongue.

DeAndre Jordan’s Nike Zoom Clear Out. (Getty)
DeAndre Jordan’s Nike Zoom Clear Out. (Getty)

DeAndre Jordan: Nike Hyperdunk 2016 & Nike Zoom Clear Out
A sneaker free agent last summer, Jordan signed with Nike after also receiving a strong offer from adidas. He’s since worn several basic red-and-blue-hued editions of Nike’s newest team models over the past year because big men are routinely overshadowed by the game’s guards and scoring wings.

Throughout the Olympics, Jordan will be wearing Nike’s Hyperdunk 2016 and Zoom Clear Out team shoes in his size 17, as he looks to protect the rim and utilize FIBA’s more loose blocking rules around the basket.

Kyrie Irving’s Nike Kyrie 2. (Getty)
Kyrie Irving’s Nike Kyrie 2. (Getty)

Kyrie Irving: Nike Kyrie 2
Perhaps no player elevated his profile and personal brand throughout this year’s NBA playoffs more than Irving. He proved himself on the game’s biggest stage and made key plays to help clinch Cleveland’s come-from-behind NBA Finals win. Now the reigning 2014 FIBA World Cup MVP is also looking to carry that momentum into the Summer Games.

Along with Durant, Irving is the only other Nike athlete on the roster with a signature shoe. He’ll continue to wear his motorcycle-inspired Kyrie 2 sneaker in simple patriotic colors throughout the tournament.

After being selected first overall in the 2011 NBA draft, he signed with Nike over Under Armour. He signed an extension before the initial deal expired in 2015 that pays him north of $6 million per year, putting him near the top of the league’s shoe endorsers.

Paul George’s Nike Hyperdunk 2016 Flyknit. (Getty)
Paul George’s Nike Hyperdunk 2016 Flyknit. (Getty)

Paul George: Nike Hyperdunk 2016 Flyknit
Along with Durant and Irving, George has been one of the most prominently featured players on the U.S. team. Nike has incorporated him into several of its marketing campaigns around the new Flyknit edition of the Hyperdunk 2016. He’s the only player on the men’s team wearing the pricier computer-knitted version of the Hyperdunk that features an extended sock-like collar.

George signed an extension with Nike just before his gruesome leg injury in 2014 that is set to make him the brand’s fifth basketball signature athlete this upcoming season. He’ll be joining Durant, Irving, James and the recently retired Bryant, whose hugely popular shoe line will continue. For the time being, George will be leading Nike’s Hyperdunk series before launching his own signature shoe line.

DeMar DeRozan’s Nike Kobe 11. (Getty)
DeMar DeRozan’s Nike Kobe 11. (Getty)

DeMar DeRozan: Nike Kobe 11 & Nike Hyperdunk 2016 Low
DeRozan is one of the top sneaker free agents later this summer, and before his current shoe deal with Nike expires at the end of September, he’ll be the featured player on Team USA wearing Kobe Bryant’s 11th signature model.

The Los Angeles native has been a consistent Kobe line supporter through the years. If DeRozan extends his shoe deal with Nike, he could be among a chosen few to carry the torch for the Kobe 12 and annual Kobe models in the years ahead.

Carmelo Anthony’s Jordan Melo M12. (Getty)
Carmelo Anthony’s Jordan Melo M12. (Getty)

Carmelo Anthony: Jordan Melo M12 & Air Jordan 31
The (at times grumpy) elder statesmen of the team, Anthony is playing in his fourth career Olympics.

Anthony has enjoyed a career-long association with Jordan Brand that’s resulted in him becoming the first player on Michael Jordan’s namesake brand to receive his own signature shoe bearing his name. He’s now wearing his 12th shoe, the Jordan Melo M12, and may also opt to support the brand’s new Air Jordan 31. It’d be a rare move for Anthony, who has typically stuck to wearing and promoting his own signature series.

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