Culture of Hoops

Jumpshot Journey: Nike KD VI ‘What The KD’

Courtesy of Nike:

Kevin Durant’s ascension to one of the world’s top athletes comes as no surprise to Nike Basketball, who signed Durant in 2007. His relentless work ethic, humility and drive to be the best never waver. His journey inspired the KD VI shoe, originally launched with an event at Durant’s childhood rec center, the Seat Pleasant Activity Center, which he still views as his home away from home. The new KD VI “What The KD” melds 35 graphics and colors from all the past KD VI colorways. From the Maryland blue crab-inspired Swoosh, to the floral graphic of his late Aunt Pearl’s robe, this new shoe captures KD’s personal stories all in one.

What originated seven years ago as a sociological sneaker experiment on the Nike SB Dunk Low has become a cultural phenomenon. “What The” are two simple words that speak volumes — a natural, intuitive reaction to something good, bad or ugly; but always open to interpretation.

The “What The #@*%” phrase invaded the sneaker sanctum and took on a new four-letter word with D-U-N-K. For the first time, Nike Basketball reveals plans to elevate the “What The” concept for signature shoes in 2014.

ORIGIN

It’s part of Nike’s DNA to innovate and take risks. From day one, co-founders Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman encouraged all employees to push the limits on creativity and embrace irreverence.

Fast forward to 2007 when Nike Skateboarding footwear designer James Arizumi upped the ante on Knight’s provocative mandate with a Nike SB “What The Dunk.” It was the brand’s first shoe featuring a mashup of iconic colorways. It was pop art with a purpose, tying a designer’s method to his madness.

“I wanted to create a shoe that combined all of the best Dunks that Nike SB has created over the years into one crazy shoe that had a ‘What The ??’ factor,” said Arizumi. “We like to say Respect the Past, Embrace the Future, and now looking back, the “What the Dunk” was a time capsule that did just that.”

Reactions varied, with some entertained and others alarmed. The special edition was like a genetic mutation of the Dunk — a classic hoops shoe born on the hardwood in 1986 and revamped for skating. This makeover fueled a legion of worldwide loyalists from Japan to Geneva.

ALLEY-OOP

Nike Basketball’s design team was in full stride with the Nike Kobe VII in 2012. Living by Kobe Bryant’s mantra to always push creative limits, an idea was born. Graphics lead Erick Goto, inspired by Arizumi’s seven-year-old “What the Dunk” shoe, set out to take Nike Basketball to new places with the first “What the Kobe.” Unveiled on the cover of Australia’s globally-revered Sneaker Freaker magazine, the “What the Kobe” sold out immediately.

Goto’s creation began a new trend tied to hoops. Nike Basketball has designed six “What The” models over the years, with four of them hitting stores.

“Our team takes prides in bringing athlete stories to life. Over the course of the year, we reach a point where we get to put a capstone on each model, and celebrate the shoes in a wild way,” said Goto.

KD-GIF-460_28584 KD_VI_What_The_Left_3qtr_back_28516 KD_VI_What_The_Left_outsole_28525 KD_VI_What_The_Left_profile_28532 KD_VI_What_The_pair_3qtr_28522 KD_VI_What_The_pair_top_28535 KD_VI_What_The_Right_3qtr_28518 KD_VI_What_The_Right_3qtr_back_28534 KD_VI_What_The_Right_outsole_28533 KD_VI_What_The_Right_profile_28521

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