One of the key elements of signature sneakers, and part of what makes them “signature,” is the chance to build personal details and storytelling about the athlete into the shoe itself. Sometimes these elements, like initials or jersey numbers, are obvious. But sometimes they are only told through subtle details. Here’s a closer look behind some of the signature details in Nike Basketball sneakers that you may have missed over the years.
Decoded: The Hidden Details of Nike Signature Sneakers, Vol. 1
What's hiding in the design of your favorite basketball sneakers?
Nike Zoom Kobe 2
Decoded: Perforations can be found in many random shapes and sizes when it comes to sneakers, but the pattern found on the Zoom Kobe 2 (and later on the ZK3) was created with a very special purpose in mind. The diamond-like design was a tribute to Kobe’s first daughter, Natalia Diamante Bryant.
Nike Kyrie 1
Decoded: Kyrie Irving may have grown up in New Jersey, but he was actually born in Australia where his father, Drederick, was playing professional basketball. As an ode to his birth country, his first signature shoe included architectural angles on the forefoot and heel as an ode the Sydney Opera House, one of the most recognizable symbols of the country.
Nike Zoom LeBron 6
Decoded: Like many kids who grow up in underprivileged communities, a young LeBron James sometimes found himself shooting at bottomless milk crates rather than actual hoops during his younger years. Nike paid tribute to these makeshift “baskets” with the traction pattern on the Zoom LeBron 6 inspired their geometric designs.
Nike KD 8
Decoded: The jagged heel counter on the KD8 has the functional purpose of helping to lock the foot in place, but it’s aesthetic design came from KD’s own body. The sabertooth tiger tattoo, found on his right leg, served as inspiration for this performance detail.
Nike Air Pippen
Decoded: Scottie Pippen is often remembered for the large “AIR” font across the sides of his non-signature Nike Air More Uptempo, but a similar, yet far more subtle detail was also incorporated into his first personal sneaker the following year. At first glance the TPU detailing along the sides of the upper may appear to be just a flowing design to reinforce the upper, but it’s actually a stylized take on Pippen’s #33.