words // Nick DePaula
renderings // 4Cent Design
It's fun to think about the "What Ifs?" in sports. You know, like what if the Blazers drafted Michael Jordan instead of Sam Bowie? What if the Blazers drafted Chris Paul instead of trading down for Martell Webster? What if the Blazers drafted Kevin Durant instead of Greg Oden? Apathetic Blazer fan, living in Portland here, clearly -- but you get the picture.
As easy as it is to second-guess the many bumbling NBA GM's throughout league history, it can be even more fun imagining where certain brands, categories and athletes would be today had they signed on for a different footwear marketing contract. Can you possibly imagine where Penny Hardaway's footwear career may have taken him had he signed with Converse, which he wore at Memphis State? What if Jordan Brand had signed Kevin Garnett in the mid-90s, as Gentry Humphrey once told us he hoped had happened?
Two of the game's biggest stars of today are without question Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose, who each are enjoying the early stages of a signature shoe career at Nike and adidas, respectively. While mulling offers from both brands just before their drafts though, they both could have easily ended up with opposite sneaker companies.
If you recall, it was Rose who wore Zoom LeBron models throughout his high school playing days at his Nike-sponsored Simeon Academy. Durant was also seriously close to signing with adidas, who beat out Nike's offer during the summer of 2007 with a monstrous $70 Million contract over seven years, $12 Million of which was an instant signing bonus. Nike's best offer was just $60 Million over the same span, and $10 Million on the spot once ink was dry. This past August, I even asked KD about his decision to sign with Nike and turn down $10 Million more from adidas, and as usual, his answer oozed humility and all that kind of stuff. "With me, this whole basketball thing, it's bigger than money for me, so it's easy for me to say that I could've went to another company because they offered more money," he said. "But I want to be comfortable and be wearing a shoe that I like. Nike was the best fit, and it was an easy choice for me." For Rose, the prospect of having his own signature shoe and a huge marketing commitment from adidas helped to make his decision.
When it was all said and done, KD and DRose went with what they each felt was the "best fit," but it's still fun to think about where their footwear might've been headed had they chosen differently.
Because a collection of thumbnails from me wouldn't be all that outstanding, I reached out to our resident blogging team 4Cent Design with a brief in mind, to see if they could put together a few initial ideas around these two signature What If? concepts. How would a Durant signature model flow with adidas design language, and what would a Rose model look like featuring some of Nike Basketball's latest tech?
Read along for thoughts and concept sketchwork from 4Cent designers Brian Moughty and Austin Jermacans below.
"Basically, I kept Durant's mid-level pricepoint in mind, in addition to the idea that his shoes have been worn by every position, including his own teammates. With that being said, I kept the design simplistic and took care of the performance needs of every ballplayer: support, ventilation, and comfort.
I also played around with some inspiration points from the nickname we most often hear for Kevin, 'Durantula.' I took small cues from Tarantulas that you'll notice in the fang-like lateral outrigger and the eight eye-like perfs on the upper. After playing around with midfoot branding early on, I felt the heel placement of the 3 Stripes would best balance out the forefoot fang outrigger design." -- Austin Jermacans
Nike Lunar Rose
"For this shoe, I really looked at different Nike track cleats as well as some of their soccer cleats. It's a track race with DRose on the court, so I wanted to give him something similar and have a really clean and smooth look, like his style of play.
I incorporated a lace cover, taken from a few recent Nike track shoes, to really give it that fast look and to make it as wind resistant as possible. I also included an outtrigger for his hard cuts and change of direction.
I wanted to include one of Nike's newer technologies in the cushioning platform, and included Lunar Foam in the forefoot and Zoom Air in the rear. I felt this would be a perfect set-up for Rose, being that he is someone who is always racing up and down the court." -- Brian Moughty
What do you think about the Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant signature What If? concepts above? Let us know in the comments below!
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