With an assist from the Bulls’ creative advisor, the midwest mascot is set to take center court in luxury Italian leather footwear for the first time.
Not all heroes wear capes. In fact, somewhere fuzzy red suits.
Benny the Bull, longtime hype man for Michael Jordan and personal friend to Wesley Willis, has ascended in Chicago Bulls history since first taking the court in 1969.
Best known for his acrobatic aerial assaults, six championship rings, and celebrated tumbling skills, Benny’s been a mainstay of both Chicago Stadium and the United Center since his first day on the job.
For over 60 seasons, Benny’s been responsible for getting fans up on their feet while staying active on his own. But despite playing alongside the likes of Jerry Sloan and Derrick Rose, the famed flier has never had his own shoe.
Don C, the Chicago Bulls‘ Creative Strategy and Design Advisor, has teamed up with all-in-one shopping service, Klarna, for a special project.
Their task? Designing a PE pair of the Just Don Courtside Hi kicks specifically for Don’s courageous colleague.
Inspired by ’80s basketball shoes and co-branded on the tongue, the soft-bottomed sneakers are set to arrive this weekend for Benny’s big game. On March 3, he’ll have his hands full as the Bulls host Kevin Durant and the new-look Phoenix Suns.
For decades, Benny’s balled out on sidelines and during halftimes in stuffed shoes akin to off-market Air Jordans. Occasionally, he could be seen flying high in a Chicago colorway of the Adidas Crazy 8 — a model made famous decades ago by Kobe Bryant.
Famously on NBA All-Star Weekend in 2020, hosted in Benny’s backyard, the Bull broke out a a pair of custom kicks painted up by Brad Torf, designed to celebrate the city, skyline, and franchise’s 50th anniversary.
But on Friday night, Benny the Bull will have his own luxury Italian leather, Chicago constructed sneaker made to the exact specifications of a championship mascot. The pair will be presented to Benny by Don himself before the game.
Sure, the sideline staple remains wide-eyed regardless of score or sneakers. However, for the team’s talented Design Advisor, adding personality to every detail of his childhood franchise is what his position is all about.
“I’ve been with the organization since last season as the Creative Strategy and Design Advisor,” Don told Boardroom in February. “Part of what I wanted to bring was more flavor when it comes to avenues of the business outside of basketball.”
Right on cue, he’s helping a Chicago staple on par with Al’s #1 Italian Beef level up. And though this particular made-for-mascot exclusive is singular to the furry flyer, Benny is not a ball hog — a similar sneaker inspired by Benny’s bespoke style is coming exclusively to Klarna.
Offering homage to the footwear worn years ago in Chicago Stadium yet created through a lens of luxury crafted overseas in Italy, the Just Don Courtside Hi akin to Benny’s PE will launch at klarna.com/us/justdon for $460.
The release caps off a banner week for Don C, who was recently named Creative Director of Premium Product at Mitchell & Ness.
It’s yet another win for the Chicago kid who’s getting out his dreams by shifting sportswear through cultural cues captured from fashion, music, and entertainment.
“It’s full circle,” Don said. “Here in the city, before the term ‘influencer’ and social media, I was a local hustler. Somebody that always was on top of what’s next and what people should be wearing.”
In 2023, those people include not just the Chicago Bulls, but Benny the Bull himself.
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