Footwear in the NBA has long been a subculture of its own and one that’s gone into overdrive this season with the league allowing more freedom on colors and designs of shoes. It can be argued the last time there was this much buzz surrounding player sneakers was when Kobe Bryant revolutionized the market with the Nike Zoom Kobe 4.
He and Nike went against traditional thinking by designing a low-top sneaker that aimed to debunk myths. Bryant was successful in accomplishing such, as several players throughout the NBA began to don his signature model.
Bryant’s shoes remained among the most popular in the league as he followed up the Kobe 4 with additional low-tops. While the style has become commonplace, there’s been a shift in players shying away from wearing a shoe when matching up against its namesake.
In the case of former Los Angeles Clippers center Ryan Hollins, he was once approached by Chris Paul to abandon wearing Bryant’s shoes all together and replace them with his model by Jordan Brand, according to Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report
Former Clippers center Ryan Hollins says he was practically coerced by former Clippers point guard Chris Paul into trading in his Kobes for Paul’s Jordan Brand sneakers, which apparently took up the majority of the team equipment room.
“He told me he could hook me up, and I tried to play it off,” Hollins recalls. “I was like, ‘Ha, ha, no problem. You’re joking right?’ But Chris said, ‘No, for real.’ So I told him, ‘I’m a Kobe guy because they feel good.'”
Paul wouldn’t take no for an answer. “What size you wear? We’ll have some 17s later in the week for you.” Hollins tried them—hey, when you rely on the man’s lobs for buckets, you obviously want to stay on his good side—but Hollins eventually went back to his Kobes, placating Paul by wearing the CP3s in practice.
While players will typically appease a teammate, fit and comfort with a shoe is not something that can simply be overlooked. Nowadays, signature shoes from Paul George’s and Kyrie Irving’s lines with Nike are among the most popular.
Though players no longer need to worry about potentially facing Bryant while wearing his shoes, they aren’t worn quite as frequently as when he was still playing for the Lakers.
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