Dreaming Up Sneaker Sponsorships That Make Way Too Much Sense For These NBA Players

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Earlier this year, Nike announced that they would be teaming up with Krispy Kreme to release a limited edition version of Kyrie Irving’s signature shoe, appropriately titled ‘Ky-Rispy Kreme.’ I couldn’t help but think about all of the potential brand-sponsored shoe doors this could open.

The NBA has already committed to team-specific advertisements on jerseys that will debut for the 2017-18 season, making player-specific shoe advertisements at least in the realm of possibility.

I shouldn’t have to sell you on how ridiculous and fun this could be. First and foremost, the Ky-Rispy Kreme’s look awesome. The fact that they come in a shoe-sized version of the Krispy Kreme donut box is just icing on the cake – wrong desert, but you get the point. The Ky-Rispy Kreme’s are fire, and the world needs shoes designed in that ilk. And thus, this half-baked list was… baked.

Isaiah Thomas x Pizza Guys

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Little known fact: Before Isaiah Thomas was an All-Star point guard in Boston, he was a Pizza Guy in Sacramento. No, really, the last (No. 60) pick in the 2011 NBA Draft was a big-time spokesperson for the California-based pizza chain, and the cheesiness of said commercials are somewhat legendary in that region.

I’ve had the pleasure of informing Isaiah Thomas — by way of a scream — that I am aware of his time as a Pizza Guy, and it always invokes a nervous, ‘I was the 60th pick in the NBA draft and they really don’t pay that position enough, so I accepted the role as ‘Pizza Guys’ spokesperson despite how bad those commercials were’ smile.

This is a no-brainer. Take my money.

Big Red x Matt Bonner x New Balance

Big Red is one of the more popular soda brands in Texas, and being that Matt Bonner is also a Big Red, and played a lot of basketball in Texas, it really is a match made in heaven.

The best part is, Big Red actually sponsors Matt Bonner, and that makes Bonner one of four current and/or former basketball players with their own signature soda. It puts Bonner in the same category as LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal, and Russell Westbrook.

New Balance actually dropped Bonner as an official sponsor several years ago, but I have to believe the proposed Matt Bonner x Big Red x New Balance signature shoe would reel them back in. Take another minute to realize how awesome it is that New Balance actually sponsored Matt Bonner. If you told me New Balance sponsored any professional basketball player, I wouldn’t believe you, but if you followed that up with”‘what about Matt Bonner?” I’d have to reverse course. Sometimes, things just make sense. Of course New Balance sponsored Matt Bonner. Duh.

Danny Ainge x Chipotle


Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge is a notorious lover of Chipotle. He’s responsible for my totally healthy addiction to their vinaigrette, but I digress – we need a Danny Ainge x Chipotle shoe, and before you tell me that Ainge is no longer an active player and thus should not have his own signature shoe, I must remind you of a very important scene in D2: The Mighty Ducks.

Gordon Bombay and the Mighty Ducks represented America in the Junior Goodwill Games in the late ’90s. They landed an endorsement deal with Hendrix Hockey, which led to a lot of fancy parties and business opportunities for Bombay. At one of these parties, Bombay famously pitched what he called “The Air Bombay Loafer: For kids who want to coach.” You should know where I’m going with this by now.

Danny Ainge x Chipotle loafer, for kids who want to stockpile draft picks.

Blake Griffin x Kia

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There has been some internet debate as to whether or not Blake Griffin actually drives the Kia’s he so proudly represents, and one way for Kia to get the best bang for their sponsorship buck would be to force Griffin to actually wear the car on his feet.

It’s actually kind of brilliant. Cars and shoes serve a similar purpose, they both get you somewhere, they are the same general shape (might be a stretch, but bare with me), and I feel like Kia is a big enough piece of NBA culture at this point that it wouldn’t seem THAT out of place. Do it, Blake. Prove to use that you actually drive a Kia, by driving to the cup with it to the cup with it on your feet.

Russell Westbrook x The Big One

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I’m not saying Toy Story is real, but I’m not saying that “The Big One” rocket Sid Phillips strapped to Buzz Lightyear didn’t totally propel Woody and Buzz into the back of Andy’s moving truck, either.

Russ is already from another planet, or at least some kind of alternate reality where humans can do things we can’t. What I’m suggesting here is that Westbrook actually straps some sort of a rocket to his shoes, and in our post-branded shoe reality, everyone will just assume it’s some kind of wacky shoe promotion when in reality he’s actually using that rocket (think Nos in The Fast and the Furious) to give him a little extra boost.

Westbrook is already faster and more explosive than everyone else, all he has to do is tell the media that he spent the offseason in Germany getting platelet-rich plasma therapy (the Kobe Bryant special) to convince them that his newfound rocket-esque explosion is something he “worked on this summer.”

Draymond Green x Cyber Dust

Draymond Green is just the latest of many professional athletes to accidentally expose their junk on social media. By Green’s own admission, this was a human error, making him the first and only athlete to have his junk leak online who wasn’t maliciously hacked by mysterious contingent who spent years and years learning how to hack into very secure social media accounts, only to use that skill for leaking pics of someone’s naughty bits.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Cyber Dust, number one, I’m jealous, and number two, it was Mark Cuban’s failed social media startup that was supposed to secure these sort of photo’s from leaking. I don’t know how it would have helped Draymond considering he did this one to himself, but hey, most sponsorships involve two parties that just barely make sense for each other anyway, so I wouldn’t get too caught up in the details.

Cuban re-launches Cyber Dust with Draymond’s privates as the spokesman, and we’re off to the races.

Gordon Hayward x League of Legends

Electronic sports (eSports), or competitive gaming for the uninitiated, is starting to take off. ESPN is covering it like would cover anything else, and the global eSports market alone is projected to generate $463 million in 2016. The one thing I know about Gordon Hayward outside of the fact that he played college basketball at Butler, and plays professional basketball in Utah, is that he LOVES video games. He’s become the professional athlete face of eSports, and their most vocal supporter in the face of the dreaded “dork” designation. ‘League’ is probably the biggest of said eSports, so this is something I’m sure both Gordon Hayward and League of Legends creators Riot Games would be totally down for. Hayward already has a League of Legends coach, this is the next logical step.

Andre Miller x Life Alert

Andre Miller is really just a default vessel for this sponsorship simply because he is the oldest active player in the NBA right now. I envision his contract with Life Alert as having some sort of automatic transfer built in so that whenever Miller retires, the next oldest player in the NBA gets to take over.

We love poking fun at older NBA players, in the most endearing way possible, I might add, but this would certainly add a little more fun to the equation. Just imagine the commercials.