The Kicks You Wear, Vol. 31 — Rest in peace, Kobe

This one hurts.

It’s Monday. Welcome back to the Kicks You Wear. Thank you for giving your boy a bit of your time this morning.

We’re skipping the shoutout today. Didn’t want to do this, but the moment calls for it. Here we go.

Bean forever

(Photo by Ramiro Pianarosa on Unsplash)

Kobe Bryant passed away yesterday in a tragic helicopter crash along with eight other people that included his 13 year old daughter, Gianna.

Y’all know me so you know basketball is my love. It’s always been my favorite sport and really what drives me to do what I do. My world, quite simply, isn’t the same without the game.

A big part of that for me growing up was Kobe Bryant. I’m not going to lie to y’all — I hated Kobe for a long time. He was so fucking good, man. Too good. And he always smacked my team.

As I grew and matured, I learned to appreciate Bryant. When I parsed apart the constant myth building, I discovered someone who truly had a passion for what he did and truly strived to get better at that thing every single day.

I remember the day he won me over like it was yesterday. March 2011. The Lakers had just lost in primetime to the Heat. It was a big matchup. This was the year that we were supposed to get the Kobe vs. LeBron James finals that we never, ever got and this matchup was a preview.

And on the road, in Miami, after a loss, this man stayed after the game for hours. Just shooting. Getting shots up. Free throws. Threes. Working on his game in the prime of his career.

That night I stayed awake until he stopped shooting. Had an 8 a.m. class the next morning. I hated myself for it. But that’s when I realized how much he actually loved what he did. And he hated being bested at that by anyone.

That’s when I thought “damn, I hope I love something that much someday soon.” That’s the passion we all work to find.

Look, the legacy of Bryant isn’t all sunshine and roses. I’ll never not talk about Bryant being accused of rape in 2003.

  • Prosecutors dropped the case after the woman declined to testify — mostly because she was publicly shamed through the process. The woman, who we won’t name here, was publicly identified and shamed.

  • Lindsay Gibbs wrote a thorough, fantastic and heartbreaking piece on that right here. Be sure to read it today before you tell people to shut up online about Bryant’s past.

He never addressed that situation the way it needed to be addressed. Him championing women’s sports the way he did in the end wasn’t enough, and now he’ll never get a chance to do that. This will forever be part of the complicated legacy he leaves behind and should be talked about just as much as his competitive drive or all the folks he’s mentored.

Right now, I’m still in mourning. Lots of people are. And they need the right time and space to do this. It’s good to give them that time. People also do have the right to be angry about what happened in Colorado. Give them that respect. Don’t shut them down today, either.

What breaks my heart the most is that Gigi, who had so much promise and so much to give to this world, will never be able to do that now. Dealing with loss is one thing. That’s part of our existence in this wretched world. But dealing with the loss of a child? Nah, man. Nobody is built for that. My heart goes out to Vanessa Bryant and the rest of the children, who have lost a father, a husband, a sister and a daughter all at once. I’m also sending lots of prayer and love to the families of everyone else who was lost in this tragic accident. Nobody is ready to face something like this — ever.

This technically isn’t sneakers, so we’ll get back to our regularly scheduled programming now. Sudden death always hurts and I really needed to get this off. Thanks for baring with me as I parse through all this. We can talk about his legacy in sneakers down the line, but now isn’t the right time.

This isn’t a sports newsletter, so I won’t keep going. If you want to read something better on this than me just typing away, here are three things more than worth your time.

Tell your folks you love them today.

Sneakers and esports belong together

(Photo by Harpal Singh on Unsplash)

Gaming and sneakers don’t really seem synonymous when you first think about it. I mean, do people actually play video games with shoes on? Can’t say that I do.

That’s not stopping these worlds from colliding, though. Plenty of sneaker brands are riding the massive wave that esports has become over the last few years.

The esports push from sneaker brands makes a ton of sense from a practical standpoint, to start. It would be absolutely irresponsible for a brand to not try to dive in on something that’s growing the way the esports industry is.

Esports is becoming a multi-billion dollar industry, according to data from esports analytics firm Newzoo. They’re projecting 9% growing in esports by 2022 and is expected to be worth $1.79 billion.

  • Now, take those numbers with a grain of salt. They’re a bit fudgy. But they’re really the best data source available in the space right now.

  • Even with that being the case, billions of people are tuning into gaming streams every single week and some pretty smart people are making big bets on esports as a burgeoning industry.

I’m not one of those people who generally believe the pie in the sky hyperbole that “video game league X is going to be the next NFL,” but, as a gamer myself, I can absolutely attest to how big it’s already become.

The sneaker industry sees the same thing. It’s an opportunity that’s worth a crack. It gives them an in with Gen Z, it’s massive on a global scale and there’s just a ton of intersectionality with gaming and, well, pretty much everything. Who doesn’t love a good video game?

The biggest reason why to dive in, though, is because this is all really still uncharted territory. No one is ruling the space from a sneaker and apparel aspect yet.

  • You know how Nike has basketball on lock and Adidas has done the same with soccer? No one has done that with esports. This is a space where Nike isn’t king and there’s billions of dollars being invested into the industry.

  • For a brand like K-Swiss, for example, this is a way to become relevant again without having one of the big players in the industry constantly on your back. They can rule this block.

It’s not exactly a safe bet. Again, the best numbers we have are fudgy. And it feels like there’s a new report every week with some different projected valuation of the esports industry five years from now. It’s maddening.

Some people also believe the industry is a big bubble that’s just waiting to burst. People are investing so much time and money into gaming right now with not a ton of return to show for it just yet.

  • But that’s always been the case with any burgeoning industry throughout time. Hell, sneakers was once that a long ass time ago. It’s a cause for concern, but not a major one.

It’s a big bet, but it’s the right one to make. The sneaker industry should dive head first into gaming.

Now, with all that being said, can we PLEASE get these companies to get more shoes on NBA 2k. That would be great, y’all.

Why high fashion loves sports

(Photo by Rubens Nguyen on Unsplash)

Earlier this week someone pointed out to me that Louis Vuitton signed a deal with the NBA and will now be making the carrying case for the league’s championship trophy. They announced the partnership during Paris Fashion week ahead of the NBA’s Paris game on Friday.

  • The deal is a multi-year partnership between the two entities that will include an annual capsule collection of apparel and accessories designed by Virgil Abloh.

  • It’s also Louis V’s first foray into North American sports, which is another really interesting wrinkle in all of this.

I thought it was the weirdest thing. My initial thought was “I didn’t even know that the damn trophy had a carrying case.” It honestly bothered me for a while. Why was this a thing? Why does it matter?

Let’s break it down. There’s a bunch of symmetry between LVMH and the NBA’s players in general. Sports and fashion are almost synonymous now — especially the NBA.

  • We’re to the point where there are entire Instagram and Twitter feeds dedicated to what athletes are wearing. I mean, Kyle Kuzma just re-upped his GOAT deal for this specific reason.

If we look at the trend line, it’s not just Louis V doing this and it’s also not just the NBA. Megan Rapinoe is the star of Loewe’s 2020 fall campaign. Dior has a whole Jordan sneaker. Prada has an Adidas deal. The NBA’s new deal isn’t just a blip — it’s part of a trend.

That’s when I realized I was just being dumb. I already knew why this was important. Just do the math. This is one of the world’s best, most famous fashion brands doing a deal with the second most popular sport around the globe’s best league. They’re trying to get in front of a new set of eyes.

  • This is like signing Rihanna to a deal or doing a collaboration with Travis Scott. They’re trying to expand their consumer base.

  • Athletes, now more than ever, have become trend setters in the fashion world and they’ve been doing it, mostly, by wearing athletic brands (Nike, Adidas, etc) and streetwear (Off-White, Fear of God, etc) . Now they can mix it up with a bit of Louis V.

It makes a lot of sense. Athletes were already rich enough to wear this stuff. Why not lean into it if you’re LVMH or designer brand X. Instead of shying away from a culture they don’t know, they’re diving head first in. It’s smart business.

I’d love to participate but, you know, the way my pockets work? Not happening no time soon.

Sacai is back again with another heater

Well, it’s a heater in my opinion. But reviews on these so far have been pretty mixed.

The new shoe hit the runway during Paris Fashion week and carried on the doubled up legacy of the Sacai Waffle.

This is the Pegasus Vaporfly SP, which is already a dope look, but the shoe was getting lots of mixed reactions ones pictures of it surfaced. I won’t bring all the tweets here, but just know these were getting roasted.

I’m interested in seeing whether Sacai can make another hit. They really caught lightning in a bottle with the Waffle. It was perfect. From the model picked to the design, everything about it was just amazing. Some would argue that isn’t the case here.

We’ll see how this all plays out. Hopefully y’all keep roasting them enough to the point where no one wants to buy them. Please — do it for yer boy.

Sean Wotherspoon’s Asics are on the way

And, boy, are they good. I didn’t have very high expectations for these — especially not after the hit that was the Air Max 97/1. It’s just hard to follow that up with something great.

But he did it. Take a look.

This man really has corduroy down to a science. It’s hard to make that look good on a shoe, but he’s done it two times now. Legend.

It also looks like there’s a little velcro spot where you latch the Asics logo on. There seems to be a few more colors where that came from in some of the teasers Wotherspoon dropped.

Nash size samples 🌊 @atmos_tokyo @koji198139
December 30, 2019

I need this in my life. ASAP. We don’t have a release date just yet, but when we get one I promise I’ll let y’all know.

What’s droppin’, bruh

That’s it for Monday. Enjoy the rest of your week, y’all. If you need someone to talk to or someone to lean on, you can hit me up. Don’t forget to drop your submissions for #TheKicksWeWear if you’re into it.

Thanks, as always, for reading and for your support.

Love y’all. As always, peace and love. Be easy. Be kind.

Signing off.

Sykes 💯