Sneakerheads

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Raegan Knobbe

Sophomore point guard Christian Hammond prefers not to wear bright colors unless he’s playing basketball. “I don’t usually wear a lot of blue off the court, and I wear blue on the court,” Hammond said. “For basketball, I’ll wear something that I usually won’t wear when I’m just going out or chillin’. I don’t like bright colors, and I only play basketball in bright colored shoes usually, like the red and the blue. I think it looks better when you wear a brighter color on the court.”

Raegan Knobbe, Editor-in-Chief

Humans have been wearing shoes for thousands of years, but at some point in history, they became much more than something people used to cover their feet. Shoes grew to have huge cultural significance, with ties to the Civil Rights Movement, hip-hop culture, and the emergence of some of the NBA’s greatest players. 

Multiple players on the Creek Boys Basketball team have cultivated large collections of shoes, and sneaker culture is something very important to them. The players buy shoes that represent their personalities and style, and show them off on the court and in public.

The sneakerhead subculture became predominant in low income and minority communities in the mid 1900’s as people began to cultivate large collections of sneakers, but the shoe game in the NBA was still underdeveloped. Sneaker marketing was just taking off, and large companies like Adidas and Converse were dominating the NBA, but players still wore somewhat boring shoes that were mostly white with some team colors.

The flare and style that now encompasses today’s shoe market originally came in the form of six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan, considered by many as the greatest to ever play basketball. In 1984, the young rookie signed a shoe deal with Nike and became the first player to have his own sneaker, rather than just representing a company, like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Kareem Abdul-Jabar did at the time. 

The black and red Air Jordan One brought vibrancy and color to the basketball court, and revolutionized the sneakerhead culture. Jordan’s influence spread across America to basketball and non-basketball players alike, and today it’s as strong as ever. The Creek Boys Basketball program has some of its own sneakerheads.

Sophomore point guard Christian Hammond thinks not enough people are into sneakers, but they should be. 

“It’s really different,” Hammond said. “There’s so many kinds of shoes out there, and if you get into it, it’s really interesting and a really cool thing.”

Senior point guard Myles Purchase explains how sneaker culture can bring people together.

“[Collecting sneakers] is something that people love doing.” Purchase said. “It’s a community where people from all over the world, and people who live all types of different ways, can share a love for sneakers.”

This love consumes people of all ages and from different walks of life. Senior power forward Arden Walker has a long-time love affair with his sneakers. Growing up, he noticed people wearing cool sneakers, and he wanted to be like them.

“I love chasing the collection and just being able to grow my shoe collection,” Walker said. “I think my love started when I was in first or second grade. I would see some of the big kids wearing their shoes, and that was some of the stuff I really wanted to wear.” 

When it comes to style, both Walker and Purchase aren’t afraid to be a little uncomfortable if it means they look good. 

“Style wise, I mean, pretty hurts,” Walker said. “People make shoe contact before they make eye contact sometimes, especially when you walk into the hallways at school, or even just seeing people in public.”

To Purchase, most sneakers are comfortable enough that he can get away with choosing style over comfort.

“No shoe is really super uncomfortable,” Purchase said. “I could go with a little uncomfortable to make you look good.”

With all of this in mind, how do these three athletes actually get their shoes? 

“Usually before I shop for shoes, I know what brand and color I want,” Hammond said. “I look on my phone and see whenever they are about to drop and try to get them when they come out.”

Buying sneakers online is a route that a lot of people take due to the vast amount of shoe apps that are available. Sneakerheads usually have a large collection of sneaker apps, some of the most popular being StockX, GOAT, Nike Sneakers, and KicksOnFire.

“I don’t really shop in stores anymore,” Purchase said. “[I buy sneakers] online, so I basically already know what I want.”

Different brands release — “drop” — shoes throughout the year. When a popular sneaker drops, such as most Air Jordans, there is a small window to buy them before they sell out. This usually results in people watching their sneaker apps like a hawk so they don’t miss out on what they want.

“I’ll wait for drops,” Purchase said. “Then whatever drops that I like, I try to get them as fast as I can.”

Some more rare sneakers only drop once a year, or less. For example, the iconic Air Jordan 1 Chicago drops so rarely, and sells out so quickly, that it’s one of the most sought after pairs of sneakers on the market. Purchase finds himself chasing rare sneakers because he wants to be unique.

“Don’t get me wrong, I like the regular stuff,” Purchase said. “But, getting stuff that is more rare makes you stand out.”

Another huge part of the shoe market is reselling sneakers. When people miss a drop, or don’t get to it fast enough, they might be willing to spend large amounts of money to buy the sneaker off of someone else. Walker has some experience selling his sneakers, but he isn’t as into it as some others.

“I haven’t been that big in the reselling game,” Walker said. “Some of my friends get mad at me because I have shoes that I don’t wear and they’re like ‘let me buy them off of you,’ and I say no. I’ve only sold two or three pairs, but I think I could get into it if I really tried.” 

As a starter for the basketball team, Walker has business to attend to on the court, so his free time doesn’t go to reselling sneakers. The sneakers that players wear on the court are different than what they wear in public, for reasons such as a need for ankle mobility and the fact that they don’t necessarily have to match their sneakers to their uniform.

“I’ve been wearing these KDs that I bought,” Walker said. “In terms of  being on the court, it’s more of a business standpoint for me and I want to get the job done, so I feel like it’s okay to mess those up or wear them for a while.” 

Hammond says he personally doesn’t like bright colors, but he will wear them on the court, and save his more neutral shoes for when he’s out and about.

“I don’t usually wear a lot of blue off the court, and I wear blue on the court,” Hammond said. “For basketball, I’ll wear something that I usually won’t wear when I’m just going out or chillin’. I don’t like bright colors, and I only play basketball in bright colored shoes usually, like the red and the blue. I think it looks better when you wear a brighter color on the court.”

When he is out in public though, Hammond pays special attention to how he takes care of his sneakers. The most important thing: never ever crease your sneakers.

“Do not crease them,” Hammond said. “You have to watch where you walk, watch how you walk, and you don’t want to wear the same pair of shoes too many times because they will wear out. Especially just don’t crease them, that’s the most important thing.”

Sometimes Walker just likes to avoid this issue altogether by keeping his shoes in the box. His logic is that if you never wear your shoes, they can’t possibly get messed up.

“People say you should rock your kicks, but I keep my shoes in my boxes for a reason,” Walker said. “I think [you should] try to preserve them and keep them looking nice. I keep the paper that comes inside the shoes and  I’ll put it back in every time I wear my shoes. I also clean out the insole after I wear them, and I have some shoe wipes.”

And do they drive in their nice shoes? They say that there are no stupid questions, but according to Hammond, Walker, and Purchase, this is definitely not something you should even ask.

“No. There’s no way, I couldn’t do that,” Hammond said. “If I did, I would take the shoe off of my right foot.”

Purchase keeps his beloved pair of Crocs on hand for situations like this, and he switches to his sneakers once he gets out of the car. But don’t think the danger ends once he steps out of the car, because he must be vigilant in every situation where his sneakers could possibly get damaged.

“I walk differently when I have shoes on that I don’t want to crease,” Purchase said. “You don’t bend your knees, you just walk with your legs straight.”

Hammond agrees that if there is even a chance of getting your sneakers dirty, creased, or ruined in any way, they must be protected at all costs.

“If it came down to it for real,” Hammond said. “I would take my shoes off and walk in my socks.” 

To many people, sneakers are an extension of their personality, a statement, and something that is a huge contributor to their personal style.

“Sneakers are important to me because you have to look good, and you have to dress good,” Hammond said. “I’m laid back, so I don’t go for super crazy shoes. I’ll go for a more bright colored pair of shoes every now and again to change it up.”

Certain sneakers can convey different things about someone’s personality. For Walker, his sneakers represent his mood on a given day. 

“I feel like I make a statement no matter what shoe I wear,” Walker said. “It depends on how I feel, and my mood for the day. If I have on some running shoes or some athletic wear, then I’m going to be chill that day, but if I have my Jordans on, I’ll want to dress up that day.”

Interestingly enough, the shoes he wears most aren’t actually basketball shoes, they’re Vans.

“I have more skate shoes than anything,” Walker said. “I’m a Vans kind of kid. I have a bunch of Vans in my room, my collection is kind of big. They’re just easy to put on with an outfit and even when they’re dirty,  messed up, or you’ve had them for a long time, they look good.”

Sneakers, while they are a big part of someone’s style, aren’t the only contributing factor. Walker says that to complete the look, you have to coordinate a good outfit.

“I got to at least look somewhat decent when I leave the house,” Walker said. “Lately, I’ve been into cozy fits. I have some sweatpants with designs on them, it’s kind of what’s been trending lately, and then I put on a vintage shirt that I have in my collection.”

Purchase also tries to put stylish outfits together because he wants his clothing to speak for itself.

“It’s a way to express myself without even having to say anything,” Purchase said. “I care about the way that I look.”

Does having good shoe game make you a better basketball player? Head Coach Kent Dertinger probably wouldn’t think so, but maybe it’s true.

“Not necessarily,” Walker answered via text. “But I think it’s a potential way to stay competitive haha.”

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Got shoe game?

CHRISTIAN HAMMOND

Q: How many shoe apps do you have on your phone?

A: Three: Goat, StockX, Flight Club.

Q: Where do you go to buy your sneakers?

A: I usually go to GOAT first, and then I’ll go on StockX and see if they have the same pair for less. Just to see the differences.

Q: Do you normally go for high tops or lows?

A: Lows. I have a lot of low pairs of shoes. I like the look better. Higher shoes, I don’t think really fit me, and I’ve always worn low shoes.

Q: How many pairs of sneakers do you own?

A: 25-30 pairs.

Q: What is your favorite pair of sneakers and why?

A: I got these Golden Harvest Jordan Ones. I’ve had those for a decent amount of time. I don’t even wear them that much, but you can kind of wear them with whatever.

Q: What are the most comfortable sneakers?

A: Any type of Air Max. Air Max 270s, Vapor Max’s, Air Force Ones, Air Max 90s.

Q: What are the most stylish sneakers?

A: Jordans. You can have a casual look with them, but at the same time, if you want to throw an outfit together, you could really put together some good outfits.

Q: If you were to dress up in your Jordans, what would you wear?

A: You can wear a jersey, jeans, and some Jordans.

Q: Who has the best shoe game in the NBA?

A: Russel Westbrook. He has the best style and shoes.

Q: Which Creek basketball player has the best shoe game?

A: I’d have to say Myles. He definitely has the best shoe game. Some of the shoes he wears, I’m like ‘dang those are sick.’ During a game, he wore these shoes, and I’d never seen those before. I’ve been trying to find them, I don’t know what they are.

Q: Can girls have good shoe game?

A: Girls can definitely have good shoe game. What appears to me that is good looking are Jordan Ones, Jordan Elevens, Jordan Fours. If they have a lot of those then I like that.

Q: What shoes would you buy your mom if you wanted to help her up her shoe game?

A: She dresses kind of comfortable, so I would probably get her some Obsidian Jordan Ones. I like those a lot, and I feel like she could wear those well.

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ARDEN WALKER

Q: How many shoe apps do you have on your phone?

A: Nine: The Nike sneakers app, the regular Nike app, Goat, StockX, Footlocker, Finish Line, Champs, and East Bay. I also have Kicks On Fire, which is like the calendar for shoes. It’s a variety of brands and the days that the shoes come out. It shows the projection of how the shoe is supposed to sell and the resale value of the shoes, which depends on if there’s a high stock or low stock.

Q: Where do you go to buy your sneakers?

A: I’m a big Nike guy, so I go to the Nike sneakers app. It is very very hard to get sneakers, especially now, because of the way that the culture is. Street wear, and even just buying shoes, is very hard sometimes, especially for me because of my shoe size, so I buy them online most of the time.

Q: Do you normally go for high tops or lows?

A: I’m a low type of guy but I have a lot of high top shoes. In terms of playing basketball, I like a shoe that’s low to the ground and gives me ankle mobility. I feel like I need to be able to move

Q: How many pairs of sneakers do you own?

A: 20-24 pairs, but the ones I actually wear, probably 15 pairs. I keep them in a box, and I know that they just sit, but they’re a collectors item to me.

Q: What is your favorite pair of sneakers and why?

A: The Air Jordan Eleven Space Jams. I have the three most important colorways: the Air Jordan 11 Space Jams, the Breds, and the Concords.

Q: What are the most comfortable sneakers?

A: Nike Vapormax is a pretty popular shoe that everybody’s been wearing lately, with the air bubbles at the bottom. I own a pair, and they aren’t beaters, but I’ll wear them and they feel pretty good on my feet.

Q: What are the most stylish sneakers?

A: I dropped some money on some Alexander McQueens, they’re a designer shoe.

Q: If you were to dress up in your Jordans, what would you wear?

A: It would be a more casual fit, so I’ll probably have on some jeans with shoes. I have these Air Jordan Fives that have yellow soles, they’ve kind of  been through some stuff I guess you could say. I’d probably wear some jeans, a T-shirt, and a hoodie with some designs on it.

Q: Who has the best shoe game in the NBA?

A: PJ Tucker. I know his shoe collections is over  5,000 pairs for sure, and then you look at his team locker, and there’s probably at least 50 pairs of shoes in there. He always comes through the tunnel to the NBA games wearing some exotic shoe that nobody else has.

Q: Which Creek basketball player has the best shoe game?

A: Right now, Myles Purchase. His shoe collection really went up when we came back from Christmas break.

Q: Can girls have good shoe game?

A: For sure. I know a bunch of girls that have good shoe game, probably better than boys. They have some pairs of Jordans, and usually some good Nike shoes that are pretty trendy. I know a lot of girls that have big collections because it’s easier for them to buy shoes I think, because of their shoe size.

Q: What shoes would you buy your mom if you wanted to help her up her shoe game?

A: My mom is a running shoe kind of person, so I’d probably get her some shoes that aren’t too flashy.

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MYLES PURCHASE

Q: How many shoe apps do you have on your phone?

A: Seven: StockX, Goat, Finish Line, Footlocker, Adidas, Nike, Nike Sneakers.

Q: Where do you go to buy your sneakers?

A: Nike sneakers, but if I don’t get on there then probably StockX after that.

Q: Do you normally go for high tops or lows?

A: If it’s basketball shoes I would say lows, but for walk around shoes, highs. [When playing basketball] I think lows look better, and I don’t really like playing in high tops.

Q: How many pairs of sneakers do you own?

A: 30-35 pairs.

Q: What is your favorite pair of sneakers and why?

A: My favorite is my Mocha Jordan Ones  because Jordan Ones are my favorite silhouette of shoes, and it’s a good colorway, and you can match it with a lot of things.

Q: What are the most comfortable sneakers?

A: My Crocs.

Q: What are the most stylish sneakers?

A: Nike SB dunk lows.

Q: Who has the best shoe game in the NBA?

A: PJ Tucker.

Q: Can girls have good shoe game?

A: Yes. [I like] Nike blazers, Air Force Ones, stuff like that.

Q: What shoes would you buy your mom if you wanted to help her up her shoe game?

A: I would buy her some Jordan Ones, you can never go wrong [with those]. Probably the Chicago.

This story won first place Lifestyle Coverage from CSMA and was named a finalist for NSPA Best Sports Story.