Meet Nike Footwear Designer Benjamin Nethongkome and the Kyrie 4

Oruny Choi@@orunychoiContributor IDecember 15, 2017

Nike

Find your groove.

That’s exactly what senior footwear designer Benjamin Nethongkome did as the lead creative mind behind the upcoming Nike Kyrie 4. After working as a footwear design intern with Jordan Brand to designing a variety of shoes, including the Kobe Mentality 1 and LeBron Witness 1, Nethongkome’s first signature shoe—the Kyrie 4—will debut on-court soon.

“Kyrie said he felt like the [Kyrie] 3 was the most responsive shoe he's worn in his line. We had to dissect what that really meant and then go back to the drawing board a little bit,” Nethongkome tells B/R Kicks.

Nike

Nethongkome and his team focused on making the Kyrie 4 even more responsive. From the ground up, the team changed the traction pattern of the outsole to longitudinal flex grooves, making Irving’s movements more instinctive and smooth. The Kyrie 4 features a Cushlon foam midsole with Zoom Air in the heel. The emphasis was to use smarter, natural materials.

“We asked him recently about the 4 now that he's practicing in them and wearing them,” Nethongkome says. “His response was the Kyrie 4 is the most comfortable shoe he's worn.”

The Kyrie line has always included some key details from Irving’s personal life, like his mother’s and daughter’s names and birthdates. Irving’s mottos, “JBY” (Just Be You) and “H+H” (Hungry and Humble), make their usual appearance on the Kyrie 4 as well.

“We've added some new ones this year. We have one that is very well-hidden: New Jersey, paying homage to where he came from,” Nethongkome says. “‘Fear is not real,’ which is something he's always been talking about to us.”

“One last detail we added, which is a dope one, is right behind the leather pull tab: an all-seeing eye graphic,” Nethongkome says. “Not to represent the illuminati. The third eye is to challenge everyone to think beyond what they see. That'll be directly behind the pull tab on the tongue.”

“The way he plays is very erratic,” Nethongkome continues.

Irving’s playing style is on full display in the Kyrie 4 with the zigzag sidewall, which provides optimal grip at extreme angles.

Nike

“The Kyrie 4 is a fine balance of ‘aesthetic and innovation,’” Nethongkome says.

It's no secret Irving has arguably the best player exclusives in the league.

"There are definitely some dope PEs we're going to show the world,” Nethongkome says.

The Nike Kyrie 4 "Confetti" launches at House of Hoops locations in Boston, Cambridge, Harlem and Wayne, New Jersey at 7:30 p.m. ET. The colorway also releases December 16 on SNKRS and at select retailers.

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