About Boardroom

Boardroom is a sports, media and entertainment brand co-founded by Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman and focused on the intersection of sports and entertainment. Boardroom’s flagship media arm features premium video/audio, editorial, daily and weekly newsletters, showcasing how athletes, executives, musicians and creators are moving the business world forward. Boardroom’s ecosystem encompasses B2B events and experiences (such as its renowned NBA and WNBA All-Star events) as well as ticketed conferences such as Game Plan in partnership with CNBC. Our advisory arm serves to consult and connect athletes, brands and executives with our broader network and initiatives.

Recent film and TV projects also under the Boardroom umbrella include the Academy Award-winning Two Distant Strangers (Netflix), the critically acclaimed scripted series SWAGGER (Apple TV+) and Emmy-nominated documentary NYC Point Gods (Showtime).

Boardroom’s sister company, Boardroom Sports Holdings, features investments in emerging sports teams and leagues, including the Major League Pickleball team, the Brooklyn Aces, NWSL champions Gotham FC, and MLS’ Philadelphia Union.

All Rights Reserved. 2022.

The Sneaker Storylines to Keep an Eye on During the 2024 NBA Finals

From Jordan Brand’s star face-off between Jayson Tatum and Luka Dončić to Kyrie Irving’s sneaker rebound with ANTA, here’s what you should keep an eye on during these NBA Finals.

As the NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks get underway, a series of sneaker marketing moves have been in the works behind the scenes in recent months, positioning the stars of the league for the game’s biggest moment of the season this week.  

From under-the-radar deals going down to potential history-making moments and even the potential launch of a new player-led sneaker brand, let’s dive into the biggest sneaker storylines of the 2024 NBA Finals.


A biweekly email from industry authority Nick DePaula packed with exclusive sneaker news and access to the athletes, designers, and executives that move the business.

The Jordan Brand Signature Face-off 

Boston’s Jayson Tatum and Dallas’ Luka Dončić will both take the floor for Game 1 of the NBA Finals tonight, but their paths to the grand stage seem to have followed uniquely different journeys from their respective St. Louis and Slovenian upbringings. 

The one commonality? They’re both Jordan Brand signature athletes. 

The duo each signed with the brand in 2019 — Tatum in June and Dončić in December — and they’ve each continually ascended ever since as two of the league’s greatest players and as global faces of the Jordan Brand.

(Tim Heitman / Getty Images)

For the first time, Jordan Brand will have two signature athletes facing off in a Finals, with each headlining player battling for their first NBA championship. The winner will become the 13th Jordan Brand athlete to win a title since the brand launched in 1997. 

Michael Jordan’s original Nike sports marketing rep, Howard White, has overseen the athlete signings of the subsidiary company for the last 25 years as the Vice President of Jordan Brand.

“H,” as everyone calls White, sees the matchup between Tatum and Dončić as representing more than just a platform for their newest signature shoes. As he describes it, dating as far back as 1991, the Finals became an opportunity for Michael’s “greatness to shine through” and “infuse hope into the world.”

“When we sign somebody, what we actually are entrusting in them is that they will have those ingredients that can bring hope,” said White. “That they can make people believe that they can be an ordinary, everyday person and they can overcome their obstacles, their fears, and all of the things that hold people back. … That’s what I’m looking for. They exemplify that.”

With the Tatum and Luka signature shoes hitting the Finals hardwood, White and the Jordan Brand team feel as though the impact of the vision they set out to achieve when the brand was launched in 1997 continues to be realized.

“With all of the other sports that we encompass now, our foundation is still basketball,” added White. “To see what they’ve done, that lifts the whole brand.”

Read the full Q&A interview with White on the brand’s signature matchup in the NBA Finals here.

Kyrie and his father, Drederick, during his ANTA tour in Asia last fall. (Photo courtesy of ANTA)

The Kyrie Sneaker Redemption Arc

While he’s gotten renewed love from all corners of the game for his shifty handles and masterful skillset, Kyrie Irving’s run throughout this year’s NBA Playoffs has been equally reminding people of his impact in the sneaker game 

(Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)

He’s worn a rotation of his ANTA KAI 1 signature shoes during each round — with the tasseled “Chief Hela” pair standing out most — and is expected to have yet another surprise in store for Game 1 of the Finals.

As the Chief Creative Officer of ANTA Basketball, Irving has the ability and sway to sign athletes and ambassadors from around the globe to represent his line of KAI footwear and apparel.

His ceremonious first signing is none other than his father, Drederick Irving, who played at Boston College and professionally in Australia decades ago. Oft credited for inspiring Kyrie’s childhood love of the game, Irving is honoring his father through his next signature edition sneaker.

In recent months, “Dred” has worked in tandem with ANTA’s team of designers to help inform the next model in the KAI 1 franchise, a speedier silhouette sans strap featuring a lower cut.

The shoe will release later this fall in September at retailers throughout the US and in global markets as Irving begins to extend his signature impact in the sneaker game with ANTA going forward.

Jaylen Brown’s signature shoe prototypes. (Photo via @KicksVisionOfficial)

Jaylen Brown is Playing … for FREE?

For the third season in a row, Jaylen Brown is a sneaker free agent. Yes, the Eastern Conference Finals MVP has been playing without a shoe deal at all in what will also be his second NBA Finals appearance in three years.

Brown currently holds the richest player contract in the entire league, so perhaps he isn’t overly concerned about a traditional shoe deal. He’s also been working behind the scenes for the past year on creating his own self-produced signature shoe, in the vein of Lonzo Ball’s Big Baller Brand and Langston Galloway’s Ethics efforts in recent seasons.

During the NBA Finals, Brown could debut his own signature shoe, produced under his “7uice” brand name. He first debuted an all-black prototype of the sneaker during the second half of the most recent All-Star Game in February, with the newest sample featuring a modified midsole, molded detailing along the heel, and translucent insets atop the upper.

More to come, as Jaylen Brown may finally be on the horizon of launching his own signature effort into the footwear world.

Jrue Holiday in the Sabrina 1. (Photo courtesy of @KicksVisionOfficial)

Jrue Holiday Continues Supporting Women’s Sports in Sabrina 1s 

All season long, Celtics point guard Jrue Holiday has been one of the league’s biggest supporters of Sabrina Ionescu’s first Nike signature shoe. He laced up the Sabrina 1 in a league-high 53 games during the regular season and has since stuck to a rotation of his own PE colorways of the Sabrina silhouette, along with the Nike GT Cut 3.

The support of the Sabrina line doesn’t just come from Jrue’s performance preferences, as he’s long looked to lend his voice and support to women’s athletics. His wife, Lauren Holiday, is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and a World Cup winner with the USWNT. She’s also a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame. 

Look for Jrue to continue to highlight Nike’s lone current women’s signature shoe during the NBA Finals.

Daniel Gafford laces up the ANTA KAI 1 during NBA Finals practice (Photo via @KicksVisionOfficial)

A Tribe Is Forming In Dallas 

As Irving continues to headline his first signature offerings from ANTA, you may also see additional Mavericks players and staff lacing up his debut ANTA model.

Key Dallas players Daniel Gafford and Derrick Jones Jr. are expected to lace the KAI 1s up throughout the NBA Finals in a show of support for their teammate. Mavs assistant coach Jared Dudley and veteran Markieff Morris have also donned the strapped-up silhouette at times throughout the team’s playoff run, leading to a strong start to the first year of the ANTA and Kyrie Irving partnership.

Jason Kidd coaches in the Nike NOCTA Glide. (Logan Riely / NBAE via Getty Images)

Jason Kidd’s History-making Moment

If the Mavericks win their second championship in franchise history, Jason Kidd would be an integral part of both, as the point guard on the 2011 title team and the team’s current head coach. He would become just the 13th person in league history to win a championship as both a player and coach.

He would also become the first signature shoe athlete in NBA history to win a championship as a head coach, entering him into even rarer air that former signature athletes like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson couldn’t quite achieve.

In recent years, Kidd renewed his post-career ambassadorship deal with Nike. He can often be spotted on the sidelines in a rotation of Jordan 1 Lows, Air Max, and Dunks. He’s also worn his own Luka 1 PE and Drake’s NOCTA Glide, each in black and carbon fiber colorways inspired by the Zoom Flight 95 sneaker that he headlined early in his NBA career as a Dallas Maverick.

Want More Sneakers?

Nick DePaula

Nick DePaula covers the footwear industry and endorsement deals surrounding the sporting landscape, with an emphasis on athlete and executive interviews. The Sacramento, California, native has been based in Portland, Oregon, for the last decade, a main hub of sneaker company headquarters. He’ll often argue that How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days is actually an underrated movie, largely because it’s the only time his Sacramento Kings have made the NBA Finals.