With the NBA Finals Running, Sneakerheads Bring the Noise

Phil Dunn, Contributing Writer

The finals always drive enthusiasm for new and retro collectible shoes on the market.

The NBA finals are off and running, and fans and sneakerheads are abuzz over who’s wearing what shoe. The finals always drive enthusiasm for the new and retro collectible shoes on the market.

This time around, all the major players, including the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Lebron James and Kyrie Irving, and the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, sport signature shoes.

eBay, of course, has a robust sneakerhead community and the community is active right now.

The NBA post-season always brings a fresh opportunity for the release of new styles and premium shoe models. The resale market, in turn, is driven largely by supply and demand, according to Josh Luber of StockX, which is one of the leading collectible shoe exchanges on the web.

“If you go all the way back to when Michael Jordan played, there were so few pairs of Jordans released every year,” said Luber. “There were just four colors of the Air Jordan 12, for example. Come playoff time, they’d release a fifth color, and back then it was a big deal.” Some of those shoes are still difficult to find, and the newer, limited release shoes are all trackable via sites like StockX and eBay.

Unlike the days of the original Air Jordans, the market is now flooded with superstar shoes of every hue and style. “Now, like last year, there were like 60 different Lebron Zero colorways [color combinations] on the market,” said Luber.

Statement shoes

Luber also takes note of what is going on with the other players in the NBA who don’t have shoe deals. “They can basically wear whatever they want.” he said. “Sometimes those guys are wearing shoes that cost thousands of dollars, because they’ll wear the super rare stuff to make a statement.”

P.J. Tucker of the Toronto Raptors, for example, wore the Nike Yeezy 2 Red October against the Cavs in game one of that series. That's a $5,000 shoe. “Every game he’d wear a different one,” said Luber. Markieff Morris of the Washington Wizards did something similar, wearing a new, different shoe in every game.

“Alternate” shoes also drive the market. Lebron is on his 14th model signature shoe and his 11th alternate model shoe. The alternate models, like the Zoom Soldier, are released at lower price points. This second model or category of shoe doubled the number of Lebrons that could sell. It helped that during last year’s playoffs Lebron wore Zoom Soldiers in the playoffs. He just liked them and strapped them on. That alone increased demand. Ever since, there’s been a big focus on that particular model.

Retro time machine

Some of the players are wearing retro shoes to kick up the excitement. Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs, for example, wore Nike’s top basketball shoe, the  Air Jordan XXX1 PE. During the season, P.J. Tucker even wore a pair of Jordan 2’s. “That’s 31-year-old technology,” remarked Luber. “The shoe came out in 1986. It’s crazy. On one hand, they’re such great athletes, they could play in anything. But on the other I think it’s strange they’re not wearing the best possible shoe.”

This season is pure fun for the sneakerhead world, and while many active sneakerheads are in the 12- to 20-year-old range, note that Jerry Seinfeld and Mark Wahlberg are noted for their athletic shoe passions. Anyone and everyone can participate.