As the NBA Lockout continues, the distance between the owners and the players union grows. So does the possibility that the NBA will not exist in 2012.
Huge arenas will sit empty. The roar of the crowd and the squeak of rubber on hardwood will fall silent.
Fans will not get to see their favorite NBA stars lace up their sneakers and take the court unless they are lucky enough to catch the latest NBA star-endorsed charity basketball game at their local civic center.
Speaking of sneakers, with all the hype surrounding the latest batch of signature shoes, it is hard to tell what will be the most crushing lockout casualty—NBA stars, or their shoes.
2012 was going to be a huge year for signature shoes. Every year is. Shoe companies invest big dollars in marketing campaigns for the brightest NBA stars. You see the ads on TV and in print.
But the court is where the big name players can be seen doing what they do best, in their newest and shiniest shoes.
Fans eat it up and want to go out and buy them. Shoes become iconic symbols and can generate dollars for decades.
Hey I know. I've been there.
For me it was the purple and gold Converse Weapons, in honor of Magic Johnson. Then I graduated to the Nike Air Force David Robinson shoes. Then the Fab Five's Nike Air Huarache.
It is the same today. NBA fans want to wear the same shoe their favorite player wears.
But with no NBA season, will the new batch of signature shoes be successful or remembered?
Here are the best of the 2012 bunch.
The Jordan Brand is Nike's line of shoes that are "inspired by the image and essence of Michael Jordan."
While I will be the first to admit that the image and essence of Jordan is quite appealing, I don't find his shoes to be.
Carmelo Anthony (Melo M8), Dwane Wade (Fly Wade 2), and Chris Paul (CP3.V) are the featured NBA stars that wear Jordan Brand shoes. They each have new versions out this year but they were only good enough to make my honorable mention.
Above is Chris Paul's shoe because I liked it the best. Honestly though, if I were an NBA athlete, I would not want another player's image on my own shoe. Even if it is the greatest player of all time.
Why can't they put Chris Paul's picture on there?
Kevin Durant's latest edition of this Nike shoe was inspired by Nerf balls.
I'm not sure why Nerf balls would serve as an inspiration for basketball shoes but I will trust in Nike's omnipotent judgment.
Personally I would not be caught dead in these things. The splattered paint and neon colors reminds me too much of late 80's early 90's fashion.
But Kevin Durant is currently one of the hottest NBA superstars so I bet these shoes would sell like hotcakes.
If he ever gets a chance to wear them!
Unfortunately these shoes will never see the inside of an NBA arena. They've been locked out.
Apparently this shoe is quite a departure from the last model that Dwight Howard wore during the 2010-2011 NBA season.
I still like the classic 3 bar design that Adidas incorporates into all of their shoes. It never goes out of style.
I think Adidas may want to invest in a new color scheme though. If all indications are correct, Dwight Howard will not be with the Orlando Magic much longer.
May I suggest a purple and gold model?
This is John Wall's first "official" signature shoe. He sure picked the wrong time to unveil it, given that he might not have a chance to play an NBA game wearing it.
Reebok touts this shoe design as "personalized" to John Wall. The ad campaign reminds us, "any moment on the court can be your chance to break-out."
Legend has it that John Wall "went from no-name to instant fame" thanks to a Reebok camp he attended in high school. Here is the story from Slam Online.
So I guess we know why Wall wears Reebok shoes.
It certainly isn't for their appealing red laces and accordion like soles.
Kobe Bryant's latest shoe is the most technologically advanced of the bunch. Not only is it a low-top sneaker, which makes it stand out from the usual NBA shoe, but it has built in ankle supports.
I guess Kobe still wants the flexibility and lightness that a low top shoe gives him, but doesn't want to snap his ankle in half when he attempts a "killer crossover."
The colors look more like what the Sacramento Kings would wear, but I'm sure Nike would unveil a Laker color scheme if there were any hope of Kobe playing NBA basketball anytime soon.
Russell Westbrook is another young NBA superstar and teammate of Kevin Durant.
Now he has his own shoe.
This color scheme is meant for Oklahoma City Thunder home games. But it also comes in an "away" color scheme.
I'm sure as a young player Westbrook couldn't wait to wear his namesake on his feet during games.
I'm sure he will have another chance at it. But probably not this season.
For some reason this shoe reminds me of the futuristic Nike shoe that Marty McFly wears in Back to the Future II. Minus the orange laces of course.
I'm guessing these shoes won't lace themselves up and give Westbrook the ability to ride a hovercraft skateboard though.
Come on Nike! Make it happen.
LeBron may not be everyone's favorite, but his shoes certainly could be.
These shoes are not fancy. No neon colors, no velcro straps, and no speckled paint. Just a classic, clean look and a nice colorway (that is sneakerhead speak for the color scheme).
I even like the Spiderman-like webbing on the side. I'm sure it serves a purpose.
Plus a quote from LeBron's favorite movie Gladiator is featured on each shoe. "What we do in Life..." is on the left and "Echoes in eternity" is on the right.
Okay, that fits, but I think this quote from Gladiator would fit better.
"He enters Rome like a conquering hero—but what has he conquered?"
The image above depicts the shoe Lebron would hypothetically wear for Miami Heat home games. But, like most shoes, the Lebron 9 has several different colorways.
One is called the "Cannon" and was inspired by Eglin Airforce Base.
Another is called "Miami Nights" and was inspired by, you guessed it, nights in Miami.
These shoes have a suggested retail price of $170, so run right out and grab a couple!
I consider myself old school. Nike, Adidas, Converse, and Reebok are the shoe companies I would run with.
The only thing I know about AND1 is that their t-shirts used to feature a faceless muscle bound guy.
I have no idea if they make good shoes. Frankly I did not know they made shoes.
I do know this though.
Monta Ellis is an electrifying and underrated young player. So if AND1 can convince him to wear their shoe, they are doing pretty well.
I've always been a big Golden State Warriors fan so that is why this shoe, with its Warriors colors, appeals to me.
I can just see Chris Mullin draining a three-pointer wearing these shoes. Actually no I can't. But I still like them.
Unfortunately, with the lockout in full swing and more regular season games lost, this is the closest fans will come to see Monta Ellis wearing these shoes.
I don't really understand why shoes need to be inspired by anything; Nerf balls and Air Force bases for example.
But if you want to make a shoe inspired by something, learn from this model. Derrick Rose's newest shoe was inspired by the city he plays for; Chicago.
The shoe incorporates messages such as "all flights canceled" and "the L," which references Chicago's famous airport, O'Hare, and it's public transportation system. The shoe insert also has a portion of the public transit map on it.
I'm not really sure where the blue laces fit in. But it works.
I suppose the shoe's moniker "Windy City" could also reference the breeze defenders experience when Derrick Rose blows by them.
With all the work Adidas put into making this great shoe, it is a shame that Rose isn't wearing it during game time action right now.
These shoes are just so wacky that you have to love them. Is it just me or do they remind anyone else of a zebra in a dark light?
I have to admit that when I was researching this article I did a double take when I learned that they were made especially for Serge Ibaka. Usually shoes are made for the most notable NBA superstars. Ibaka is a good young player; especially gifted at shot-blocking.
But I did not think he had risen to signature shoe status.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are stacked with young exciting talent and are one of the more popular teams in the NBA, so I suppose Adidas wanted to capitalize on that. With Durant and Westbrook already taken by Nike, Ibaka was the natural choice.
The shoe itself features the Thunders colors mixed with an African pattern. It is an homage to an old Dikembe Mutombo shoe of the past.
Ibaka and Mutombo have a lot in common. They are both from the Congo and Ibaka idolized him growing up.
They both block a lot of shots too. I hope Ibaka doesn't bring back the finger wag though.
These shoes were supposed to be featured on Ibaka's feet during last year's NBA Finals. Oops, the Thunder lost to the Mavericks.
Now there is no regular season to show them off either. Will these beauties ever see the light of day?
Correction: For the sake of accuracy, these are not actually signature shoes, but "exclusives" for Ibaka. They were made just for him, not for the public. But, the idea is still the same. We won't see them in stores or the court any time soon.
This shoe is so bad it is good. Not just good, it is excellent. Everything about it.
A hilarious shoe review was featured on deadspin.com that you have to check out.
In short, Kevin Love had signed with a China-based athletic company called PEAK. They made a shoe for him called "Relentless". That contract ended and Love signed with another China based firm, 361 Degrees.
Wasn't that a boy band back in the day?.
The company says that it represents athletes with "one extra degree of passion". I guess Nike and Adidas must be looking for those athletes with two extra degrees then?
I will certainly miss seeing these behemoths in NBA action. I am curious to see how Chinese-made basketball shoes would hold up. No disrespect to China or 361 Degrees but they are not known for making athletic gear.
If they were, wouldn't Yao Ming have been sporting them?
Would the soles fall after Love's first jump stop? Would the shoe simply disintegrate with the force of Love landing after a dunk or rebound?
We'll never know.
What I do know is that these shoes are big, white, and ugly; and Kevin Love is the perfect NBA star to wear them.