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Season 1 on ESPN+: The Sneaker Business

Last Updated: April 26, 2023

Few things signal the global reach of an athlete more than the launch of their own signature sneaker line, and “personal edition” sneaker designs have become the gold standard for basketball players on and off the court. In this episode, Lakers forward and fashion influencer Kyle Kuzma, NBA “sneaker king” and veteran Houston Rockets forward PJ Tucker, and Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (who has one of the longest running signature sneaker lines with Nike) sit down with Rich Kleiman and Jay Williams to discuss the ever-evolving business and culture of the sneaker industry.

Kuzma and Tucker both outline the ways in which NBA players without their own signature shoe deal stand out by utilizing their own fashion, identity, geographic location, and flair to leverage visibility and negotiate for more lucrative shoe deals. Tucker dishes on the most expensive shoe he’s ever purchased. Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman break down the negotiation process and what the experience was like for Durant when he made the decision to re-sign with Nike. The history of the athletic shoe is on display as all three players reminisce on iconic sneakers donned by NBA players who came before them such as Grant Hill, Allen Iverson, and Kevin Garnett.

The intersection of culture and the business of sneakers is highlighted in a special segment with correspondent Jordan Schultz at Steve Stoute’s Stashed Sneaker shop. Stoute explores how the cultural cache of athletes also applied to music and hip hop stars like Jay-Z and G-Unit. Those initial sneaker hip hop collaborations have led to the prominent music artist sneaker lines that are so highly coveted today. Don C, Chicago native and fashion designer, elaborates on the influence of Jordan brand on fashion and how Jordan continues to evolve to stand the test of time.

Watch this episode, along with all of Seasons 1 and 2 of The Boardroom, streaming now on ESPN+.