TORONTO – A group of kids crowd around a glass case housing a few different shoes at the NIKEiD Lounge on Richmond Street. The host for today holds one up and asks “now which one is this?” and a few enterprising kids yell out their answers. Most get the style right – they’re Kobes– and a couple even get the number correct (they were a pair of Kobe VI “Sunset” kicks from the 2011 NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles). Just a few moments later, a surprise guest walks through the door. It’s Zach LaVine, and a few hours from now, he’ll defend his Slam Dunk Contest title. Right now, though, he’s trying to elicit a high five from a kid whose expression is frozen in sheer surprise and seems to be refusing to move in an attempt to make that particular second last forever.
LaVine helps a few of the little hoopers from CIA Bounce design their own Hyperdunks, and then the entire group works together to try and create a shoe that would be fitting for LaVine on the court. It has touches of green and gold, and there’s a rationale behind every decision the kids make.
“These are dope,” LaVine says, and shortly after, everyone is ushered to the front for a group picture. LaVine’s handler keeps trying to get him to leave, but the Timberwolves star takes another picture, and then another one, and signs everything from shorts to magazines to towels.
If these kids aren’t hooked on shoes yet, they will be. That’s one of the things Nike does best.