In the Nike Basketball design hierarchy, it's mostly Kobe Bryant and LeBron James' designers who have been afforded the opportunity to push boundaries. Now nine years into his career and tenure with Nike, it's Kevin Durant and designer Leo Chang who are looking to revolutionize basketball footwear.
In an interview with Chang earlier this month, he told us about a unique version of the recently unveiled Nike KD 8 Elite that extends to Durant's knees. The idea was to mimic the compression gear that Durant favors while playing.
"There’s one he’s actually going to wear that goes all the way up to his knees. That’ll be pretty cool. Just from a product standpoint, we’re looking on how to blend the tight that he normally wears—in sock or shoe," Chang said. "What if we were to literally integrate all that together into one product—so that it almost feels seamless where you don’t know where the next layer starts. That was the idea behind that—to push for something more futuristic."
As promised, Durant's debuted his ultra-high sneakers tonight while warming up for a game against the Utah Jazz. Impossible to miss, the vibrant orange "Creamsicle" colorway is indeed equipped with an extended compression sock that almost runs to Durant's knees, but falls just a bit short because of how long his legs are. Earlier this month, Durant wore the standard KD 8 Elite in the same colorway.
In the performance vs. style argument, there's no question which side of the debate this shoe lands on. Nike also added a sock-like Flyknit collar to the upcoming Hyperdunk 2016, a sign that this is an element that may be worked into more models moving forward.
The KD 8 Elite, minus knee-high compression socks, launches on Apr. 14.