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Nick’s Picks // The Best in Sneakers Entering NBA All-Star Weekend

Boardroom’s Nick DePaula delivers a curated list of the most important, eye-catching, and intriguing developments in the wide world of athletic footwear.

As we enter the thick of February, a mix of leaked launches, exclusive sneaker sightings, and recent industry news has already gone a long way to setting the stage for an exciting start to the year.

In a new weekly column, I’ll be highlighting a handful of my favorite notes and quirks from around the sneaker industry, from feel-good stories to upcoming releases and everything in between.

With Super Bowl LVI between the Bengals and victorious Los Angeles Rams now behind us, let’s look ahead to what’s next, with NBA All-Star Weekend in Cleveland featuring front and center.

The Zoom Flight 95 is on the way back! 

By my estimation, it’s the greatest sneaker design of all time.

With its flowing upper, molded spheres along the midsole and balanced blocking of black and white set off by its trademark carbon fiber weave panel, the Zoom Flight 95 has featured a futuristic look that’s held up nearly three decades after its original release.

“Design is a balance between science and art,” designer Eric Avar told me when discussing the shoe years back. “For me personally, it always begins with looking at the science side of things and the performance side of things, and ultimately find out what problem you’re trying to solve.”

Headlined by Jason Kidd during his first run in Dallas, the shoe was also donned by players around the league including speedy guards like Terrell Brandon and Damon Stoudamire, lanky forwards like Juwan Howard, and that year’s surprise Slam Dunk champ, Brent Barry.

While players of all positions took to the design, it was the explosive and dynamic Bay Area-bred point that Avar had in mind.

“We wanted to design a shoe that could in a sense somewhat control a player like Jason Kidd with all his speed and power,” added Avar.

With support panels on each side of the shoe following the foot’s natural sloping, the molded spheres served as the standout detail that gave the shoe an iconic read as players burst up court in transition.

“This anatomical geometry that we were going for … it just took the shape of these elliptical shapes,” detailed Avar. “We kind of bent them forward to give the sense of speed and a stance where it was almost like the shoe was in motion.”

After first being retroed in 2008 and later again in 2015, the shoe is set to return at some point this Spring. Here’s to hoping even more OG looks are included in the launch lineup.

Players breaking out “BHM” sneakers new and old 

All month long, players have been spotted in Black History Month-themed sneakers from throughout the last decade, along with new editions that brands have created for this year in detailed themes.

Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Just as his time in Sacramento was coming to a close, playmaker Tyrese Haliburton laced up a decade-old BHM KD 4, while Montrezl Harrell also broke out several BHM themed pairs during his last week as a Washington Wizard.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Both Stephen Curry and Damion Lee have regularly been rocking the new BHM edition of the Curry 9, while Laker and Jumpman teammates Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony have each worn black elephant and metallic gold editions of their respective go-to WhyNot 0.5 and Air Jordan 36 models.

OBJ dons diamond Swoosh cleats at the Super Bowl

“VIRAL AND MEMORABLE FOREVER”

In a quick text to The Shoe Surgeon, Odell Beckham Jr. set the stage for what he hopes to debut on his feet in his very first Super Bowl appearance.

In a collaboration with high-end jeweler Jason of Beverly Hills, OBJ’s $200,000 custom cleats featured both royal and yellow snakeskin pattern and a diamond-laden Swoosh logo teased by The Shoe Surgeon ahead of the big game.

Beckham went on to score the first touchdown of the game before sadly going down with what turned out to be an ACL injury. But he put his stamp on the game in more ways than one — and for his troubles, got himself a ring to match his bedazzled Nikes.

Stephen Curry Gifted Howard Golf With BHM Curry 9s

As part of his ongoing commitment to outfit both the women’s and men’s Howard University golf squads, Stephen Curry recently surprised each student-athlete with two BHM-themed editions of his newest signature sneaker.

Featuring the brand’s “Be Seen. Be Heard. Be Celebrated.” theme of this year’s Black History Month collection, the black and neptune teal Curry 9 gifted to players was only the beginning, as they also received an unreleased alternate player exclusive BHM edition of the sneaker in Electric Tangerine.

The Joker laces up his wedding ring every game

Filed under adorable, I mentionedearlier this week on Twitter that Denver Nuggets center and reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic laces up his wedding band onto his sneakers during every game. Fans immediately were all in on the gesture while simultaneously also being terrified for The Joker given that he doesn’t seem to be a double-knot enthusiast.

Trae Young & Adidas hosted L.E.A.D. founders at Hawks game to Honor Black Excellence

As part of Adidas‘ ongoing “Honoring Black Excellence” program throughout the month, Trae Young and the brand looked to recognize two local ATL non-profit founders, CJ and Kelli Stewart, who have been making an impact in the community through their organization L.E.A.D.

Short for “Launch, Expose, Advise, and Direct,” their program provides resources and guidance to local Atlanta-area students through both baseball and workshops. Young and the Hawks hosted the Stewarts courtside at Friday’s home game against the San Antonio Spurs, while 25 L.E.A.D. students were also provided tickets to the game.

In tandem with the event, Trae Young also released an early batch of just 50 pairs of his “HBE” signature Adidas sneakers at the Hawks’ arena team shop, ahead of their Adidas.com release next week.

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