One-of-a-kind: Five of this NBA season’s hottest pairs of custom kicks
Sneakers have become one of the best ways for NBA players to showcase their flair for style, express themselves or pay homage on the court. To get that special one of one design to stand out, NBA players often get a custom design on a shoe.
Custom designers add their special touch with stenciling, airbrushing and hand-painting techniques that make these shoes stand out amongst the crowd. During this current season, there were a few players who rocked custom heat that caught attention with the combination of a strong message and design that popped. Here’s a look at the top custom designs worn this NBA season.
The synergy between New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett and custom shoe designer Sierato has led to great shoes for the past few years. The two have worked together consistently throughout Barrett’s playing career. Barrett and his Duke teammate Cam Reddish had Nike pairs designed by Sierato in Duke’s 2019 March Madness run.
Fast forward two years later, the Knicks were finally back in the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons. In his first career playoff game, Barrett wore a customized colorway of the Puma designed by Sierato. The design is a blue colorway that features all of Barrett’s history including his number nine jersey number, the Canadian maple leaf, and the logos of Puma and the Knicks. There’s also a monster design with an eye hovering over sharp teeth drawn within the Puma formstrip. The heel has the phrase “No Talk, Just Action” written across both shoes.
A finalist in the NBA’s Rookie of the Year voting, Charlotte Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball took the league by storm with slick passing, electric handles and deep three-point shooting. The Charlotte Hornet came into his first season with a brand new rumored $100 million contract with Puma. He had a plethora of solid Puma-designed releases, but his custom looks take the cake.
Custom designer Mache designed three neon colorways of orange, purple and yellow of the Puma Clyde All-Pro with Ball’s personal logo on the heel for Ball. The guard wore the neon orange colorways early in his rookie campaign.
One of the surprises of this NBA season was Sacramento Kings rookie Tyrese Haliburton. The 6-foot-5 guard made positive contributions. He ended up a finalist for the NBA Rookie for the Year award. Haliburton was a candidate for NBA sneaker MVP, pulling out classic retro shoes and rarities throughout the season.
A fan of the Kobe line, Haliburton had one of the best custom looks all season in the Nike Kobe AD. Customizer Andrew Lewis took the colorway of the Nike LeBron 10 “What the MVP” and transposed it onto the Kobe AD model.
Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles is far from the biggest sneakerhead in the NBA. Actually, he wears the same few colorways of the Nike Kobe AD Mid silhouette and has worn the model for the past few seasons. Ingles sported a fresh new custom markup of the Kobe AD Mid this season to honor World Autism Day in an April 2 game against the Chicago Bulls.
Ingles is the father of three children, including his son Jacob who was diagnosed with autism in 2019. The blue and white color scheme also features Jacob’s face and puzzle pieces in various colors. Designed by Andrew Lewis, Ingles was one of several Jazz players who joined the Aussie in celebrating the occasion.
In honor of the one year anniversary of Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s death, Under Armour and custom kicks designer Dez Customs teamed up on a special custom colorway of the Under Armour Curry Flow 8 for MVP candidate Stephen Curry. In a purple, white and black color combination, the shoes featured drawings of Kobe and Gianna Bryant as well as Curry and his two daughters. The hashtag #GirlDad is written on the upper of the shoe. Dez Customs also made a custom pair for 76ers center Joel Embiid.
Rafael Canton is a writer based in New York City whose work has been featured in VICE, Pitchfork, SNY and Bleacher Report. If you want to talk sports, music, or the internet, you can reach him on Twitter.