Can They Kick It?

Kobe says goodbye, even to the haters

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — As Kobe Bryant preps to play his final home game with the Los Angeles Lakers tonight against the Utah Jazz (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), the tributes just keep coming. And this new commercial from Nike — with guest spots (and singing!) from Phil Jackson to Rasheed Wallace — manages to convey one interesting aspect of the Kobe experience: Win or lose, love or hate, Kobe always found fuel to thrive.


VIDEO: The Conductor

Nike declares April 13 “Mamba Day”


VIDEO: Mamba Day

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — We’ve known for a while now that this would be Kobe Bryant‘s final season, but the clock is about to finally run out. Next week, on Wednesday, April 13, Kobe Bryant will play his final NBA game. And to celebrate his final appearance on an NBA court, Nike has named that date “Mamba Day.”

According to a release from Nike…

Beginning today, Nike-sponsored athletes worldwide will celebrate the player many love to hate by wearing black and gold shoes, a metaphoric nod to Bryant’s golden career fading to black on April 13.

From the golf course in Augusta to football pitches in Europe and numerous fields of play in between, accomplished athletes including Rory McIlroy, Mike Trout and Carli Lloyd will honor one of the world’s most polarizing champions. Bryant is a hero to fans and a villain to others, but nobody can question his fierce competitiveness, which has led to five world championships, 18 All-Star appearances and two gold medals.

And already, Nike athletes are rocking their black and gold. Yesterday at round one of The Masters, for instance, Rory McIlroy broke out some spikes that fit the bill, and even had 4/13 written on them…

Nike unveils USA Basketball 2016 Olympic uniforms

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The 2016 Olympics in Rio are still a few months away, and while we don’t know exactly who will be on Team USA, we now know what Team USA will be in. Today in New York City, as part of their innovation summit, Nike introduced the uniforms for the men’s and women’s USA Basketball teams. Here are Kevin Durant and Elena Delle Donne modeling the new unis…

Lakers pay tribute to Kobe today with custom socks

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — All season long, teams around the NBA have paid tribute to Kobe Bryant with gifts and on-court moments. Today, for their game against the Warriors (3:30 P.M. ET, ABC) the Lakers will do something no NBA team has ever done before, and honor Kobe Bryant by wearing custom Stance socks. This will mark the first time an NBA team has worn a piece of equipment to honor a current player.

From a release from Stance…

The socks, all of which pay homage to Bryant’s eye for detail, personal aesthetic and year-long #KB20 campaign, celebrate the guard’s incredible, record-breaking 20-season NBA career.

The first of the socks, called ‘The Final,’ is purple/gold/white/black and is adorned with the number TWO on the right sock and FOUR on the left. This style is built on Stance’s performance basketball block — with superior breathability, moisture management and targeted cushioning — and will be worn on-court by the Lakers this coming Sunday, March 6, when they face off with the Golden State Warriors at the Staples Center.

‘K. Bryant,’ the second of the three styles, is a casual sock that depicts a cartoon caricature of Bryant. The twist, though, is that the left sock depicts the guard as he would’ve looked at the turn of the century, complete with a No. 8 Lakers jersey, classic haircut and full goatee. Meanwhile, the right sock features Bryant in the No. 24, with a shaved head and his infamous jutted jaw.

The final style, ‘Kobe Faces,’ is a black/purple/gold/white mismatched casual sock that draws inspiration from Bryant’s HeroVillain line of merchandise. Most noticeably, HERO and VILLAIN are written in Mandarin on the socks, and the foot features the HeroVillain and KB20 logo.

The limited-edition Stance x Kobe socks are now available on Stance.com, KobeBryant.com, NBAStore.com and at Staples Center.

AllStyles

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Kobe gives shoes to Tony Allen, calls him best defender he’s ever faced

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — A few months ago, Kobe Bryant named his top five opponents, a list that included Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Clyde Drexler.

But the best defender Kobe ever went up against? Apparently a different name is atop that list. After Kobe’s final game in Memphis last week, Kobe gave his shoes to Grizzlies forward Tony Allen, and he wrote a special message on the kicks: “The best defender I ever faced!”

Steph Curry gives shoes to fan in Orlando

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Fans of the Golden State Warriors come out to see them on the road everywhere they play. And if it wasn’t enough that Steph Curry went for 51 points last night in Orlando during the Warriors’ win over the Magic, but as Curry left the floor after the game, he picked out a fan celebrating a birthday and made sure his game-worn Under Armour kicks got hand-delivered…

Stephen Curry gave his autographed, game-worn shoes to a young fan for his birthday.

A video posted by Sports Videos (@houseofhighlights) on

Draymond Green has some advice for Kevin Hart

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The Golden State Warriors are one of the most popular teams in the NBA this season for their play on the court. Off the court? They’re starting to get popular there as well. So in this new ad from Foot Locker, Kevin Hart looks to Warriors forward Draymond Green for advice with the launch of his “fashion” line. Perhaps Green should stick to racking up triple-doubles…


VIDEO: Draymond-Hart

adidas introduces Black History Month collection inspired by Jesse Owens

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ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — With February right around the corner, adidas has unveiled their Black History Month collection, inspired this year by the legendary track and field athlete Jesse Owens. As adidas notes, at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Owens “became a groundbreaking athlete and symbol for social justice and equality after a historic performance where he became the first American track and field athlete to win four gold medals in a single games, all while under tremendous global tension.” And he did it while wearing a pair of spikes handmade by adidas founder Adi Dassler.

For Black History Month, adidas athletes will wear shoes that pay tribute to Owens. From a release via adidas…

James Harden, Damian Lillard and Derrick Rose, among others, will debut the exclusive collection during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day games and continue to wear the commemorative editions in select games throughout February to celebrate Black History Month and honor African-American role models like Jesse.

Each model features cream tones, dark brown contrasts, gold accents and signature details including Owens’ 733 bib number treated with gold foil on the tongue and a 1936 graphic-print in the sockliner.

The D Rose 6 features an aged, tumbled leather upper that pays homage to the medal-winning cleats worn by Owens, contrasted by off-white hits and a clear outsole with gold flecks. He was the first American to claim four medals at the games and gold accents on the D Rose logo, heel straps, tongue detailing, lace lock and faceted eyelets celebrate the groundbreaking feat. The sneaker also features a subtle tribute to the crowd in attendance with a black-and-white photo printed on the collar lining and back of the tongue.

Inspired by Owens’ track uniform at the games, the D Lillard 2 is designed with an off-white color palette, while the upper’s cracked, gold foil texture and accents echo the medals won. The upper is also color blocked with cream suede and mesh paneling for clean, comfortable style on and off the court. The silhouette pairs Oak Print hits with a fresh coat of vintage-white at the midsole, eyelets and heel cap that seamlessly blend with a clear outsole.

The Crazylight Boost 2.5, worn by James Harden and Andrew Wiggins, features a mix of materials in the upper including off-white, gradient Primeknit and genuine leather with gold foil treatment. The 2.5 also includes a ‘Jesse Owens’ graphic print lace jewel and the elite sprinter’s name embroidered on the inside of the tongue. Gold accents on the silhouette’s lace tips and signature details deliver a true gold metal tribute.

The D Rose 6 ($140) and D Lillard 2 ($105) roll out in January at adidas.com. For detailed images, check below… (more…)

Jordan Brand introduces the Air Jordan XXX

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ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The Air Jordan, one of the most (if not the most) iconic basketball sneakers of all-time, is turning 30 years old. And today in Chicago, Jordan Brand unveiled the latest iteration of the shoe. The Air Jordan XXX, designed by longtime Nike designers Tinker Hatfield and Mark Smith, found inspiration in several places.

According to Jordan Brand…

Each of the shoe’s elements results from a key performance insight or design inspiration fundamental to the player and Jordan Brand’s evolutions. The start of the design process, however, tied to a significant, if lesser-known, date: a bitterly cold weekend in February 2015, when – during a pre-birthday party dinner — Michael Jordan asked long-time design collaborator Tinker Hatfield to spearhead the design of the anniversary-marking shoe. “The next morning I drew a shoe,” Hatfield recalls, “because I knew I was in deep trouble. We had no time. Then I realized it wasn’t good enough to sketch a shoe. I asked for that particular photo of Michael in the slam dunk contest and then I drew.”

The photo in question, which featured MJ in the open lane, rising to the hoop, ball cocked behind his right ear and legs tucked under his body, activated Hatfield’s memories of 1988. It spurred the designer to add his own illustrations to the familiar image. The resulting artwork, which recapped Jordan’s history in unconventional ways, in turn inspired the shoe.

An “XXX”, signifying 30, transformed into a basketball net. Stars symbolized the athlete’s otherworldly talents and planets orbiting the Jordan universe took on surfaces — elephant print or carbon fiber — related to innovations initiated by past Jordan models. Elaborating his drawing, with help of fellow designer Mark Smith, Hatfield broadened the Jordan narrative and formed the story of the Air Jordan XXX, one that references a storied yet timeless lineage with an eye towards the future.

The Air Jordan XXX will be globally available at select retail stores and Jordan.com on February 12, 2016. For more images, check below… (more…)

Stance debuts Black History Month socks

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ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — NBA players have worn all sorts of colorful socks this season thanks to the NBA’s new partnership with Stance socks. Check out the newest design: A Black History Month sock. This look will make its debut on court next week, on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and then be worn again in February, which is Black History Month. According to Stance, the design is in honor of Dr. King, and the “1929” on the footbed is for the year Dr. King was born. The socks are now available at the NBA Store or Stance.com.