At a glance, NBA Summer League basketball doesn’t look that different from its NBA counterpart. The players aren’t as good, the uniforms resemble practice gear, the entertainment during breaks in the game is always either strange or terrible, but it’s still basketball. But during my second trip to Vegas, one thing continually jumps out at me: the shoes.
When I was an actual basketball player many, many year ago, there wasn’t a broad selection of basketball shoes. Well, that’s not entirely true… great basketball shoes have existed for as long as I can remember, but my problem was there were never any in my size (14, right past the edge of normalcy, apparently). In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, internet shopping wasn’t yet a huge thing, so I’d have to trudge down to “Just for Feet” and buy whatever didn’t hurt and cost a fortune. Now with the Eastbay, Footlocker, and Nike all online, it’s possible to find or even make your dream shoes (Seriously, NikeiD is a rabbit hole and it’s amazing). But seeing all of these different kinds of shoes in Vegas has easily been a highlight of Summer League for me. And I can now say with authority that I want between three and five new pairs of sneakers. Ignore the fact that as a 30-year old man who works in an office, I have no real opportunity to wear any awesome shoes, so they’ll probably just stay a dream.
Here in Las Vegas, the majority of the players have fantastic shoes, ones that jump off the court stylistically, mainly because they tend to be very different colors than any team’s color scheme. The most popular shoes trended towards KD’s with the more well known players, followed by variations of Kobe’s for everyone else. Nike flat out dominated in terms of shoe representation.
The final day I was out at Las Vegas Summer League, I made it a mission to find as many cool shoes as possible. In some circumstances, players like Rodney McGruder, Lucas Nogueira, and Nerlens Noel helped me identify their shoes. LVSL fans also have their fair share of amazing footwear. Others I’ve identified as best I can, so let me know where I went wrong. I don’t really know anything about basketball shoes other than I love them.