The NBA Finals, in Kicks

Patrick Stevenson, Staff Reporter

The Bubble. For sports fans like me around the country, it was the saving grace for sports in 2020. It forced athletes to endure three months, no fans or family. This unprecedented circumstance led NBA stars to show support for their teams’ fans, with their kicks. The 2020 NBA Finals were no different, with players breaking out new releases and colorways, we take a look at the best shoe from each game in the series. 

Game 1 – The Lakers Lebron James in the Lebron 7 Media Day” 

Throughout this entire bubble adventure for the Lakers, LeBron has brought back his famed LeBron 7s in flashy colorways. 

Originally released on Oct. 4, 2009, the LeBron 7 made the jump that Nike needed. The LeBron 7s  introduced 80% more air in the air bubble, new technology called Flywire that combined lightness and durability in the upper of the shoe. 

For a player like LeBron, this shoe was just what he needed. A bigger air bubble would fuel his explosiveness, and the Flywire would keep the shoe agile, yet sturdy. This Lakers-esque colorway was first seen at the 2019-2020 NBA media day and then brought back for Game 1 of the 2020 NBA Finals. With such a rare shoe, LeBron made sure to put on a show, going for 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists in the Lakers Game 1 win. 

Game 2 – The Laker Anthony Davis in the Nike Zoom Protro 5 PE 

Without a doubt the biggest blockbuster trade of the 2019 NBA offseason was the Lakers picking up then six-time All-Star, Anthony Davis.

Davis was the perfect fit for Los Angeles. With his imposing height, he dominated the low post in the regular season. 

The death of Kobe Bryant loomed large for Davis as Bryant was a mentor and great friend to him. During the NBA Bubble, Davis has paid homage to the late Bryant by wearing a plethora of his iconic shoes, his favorite being the Kobe 5. 

First released in 2009, many of the famed Kobe 5s have undergone a modernizing process, which Bryant said was the “Protro” or “the improved” version of the shoe. In an interview with the Orange County Register, after Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals Bryant said,  “You’ve got to do whatever it takes to win the game.” Davis did just that, pouring in 32 points and 14 rebounds, leading the Lakers to a 10-point win over the Miami Heat. He did all of this while wearing his Kobe 5 Protro PE (player exclusive). Similar to the “Bruce Lee” colorway, this PE has an all-yellow upper with a lavender Kobe logo on the tongue.

Game 3 – The Heats Jimmy Butler in the Jordan Jumpman Diamond Low

If we were to create a list of the most underrated players in today’s NBA, Jimmy Butler would be at the top of the list. 

Shuffled around from Chicago to Minnesota to Philadelphia, Butler couldn’t seem to find the right fit. That all changed over the summer as he made his way to South Beach to join the Miami Heat. 

Butler has led the Heat through extremely tough competition including the young and athletic Boston Celtics and the MVP-led Milwaukee Bucks. Through all of this, he’s rocked with Jordan Brand, sporting their new Diamond Low shoes, made with the Nike Zoom midsole that optimizes explosiveness. Butler came through in Game 3, putting in 40 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists, while donning the white and scarlett colorway. 

Game 4 – The Lakers Kyle Kuzma in the “Puma RS-Dreamer Concrete Jungle”

Lakers fans may create some of the best atmospheres in the NBA, but they are ruthless when it comes to players they think are underperforming. Kyle Kuzma is one of those players. 

While Kuzuma’s playing may be lackluster, his kicks are definitely not. Kuzma, along with teammate Danny Green, signed with Puma in 2019, who were looking for new faces of their brand. Their plan came to fruition this past summer when, on July 31, Puma released the “J Cole Puma RS-Dreamers.” 

The shoe itself is quite sleek and simple. With a sock-like upper, it provides a locked-in feeling without being uncomfortable. Its traction is one of its best features. With a leaf -like pattern on the sole, it provides the most traction while not taking away the ability to explode off the floor. Kuzma donned the “Black Rainbow” colorway for Game 4, while adding 9 points and 2 rebounds in a Lakers win. 

Game 5 – The Heats Duncan Robinson in the “KD 12 Don C”

If you were looking for a motivational story from the 2020 NBA Finals, Duncan Robinson’s story is the one. 

Robinson started his college career at the Division III Williams College, averaging 17.3 points and 6.5 rebounds in his freshman season. That summer he made the leap to Division I basketball at the University of Michigan. 

After three years with the Wolverines, he entered the draft, eventually being picked up by the Miami HEat as a free agent. The 2019-2020 season was his breakout year, averaging 13.4 points and 3.3 rebounds per game and going for 34 points with 10 3-pointers against the Atlanta Hawks in December. His success carried over into the NBA Bubble and eventually the NBA Finals. 

Robinson, unlike most of his teammates, keeps his shoe game simple by almost always rocking the KD 12, the signature shoe of NBA superstar Keving Durant. The KD 12s were created with a new type of technology, Multi-Directional Flywire. Similar to the original Flywire, the shoe was held together by a series of suspension wires across the upper, but the KD 12 added three more points of suspension, which allowed a more secure feeling in the shoe. 

With Miami down 3-1 and facing elimination, Robinson scored 26 points with 5 rebounds and shooting 7-13 from 3-point range, all while donning the baby blue “Don C KD 12.”

Game 6 – The Lakers Alex Caruso in the “Nike Zoom Kobe 5 Lakers”

The Lakeshow. That’s where Alex Caruso’s nickname, the Carsushow, derived from. With his thunderous dunks and flashy plays, Caruso puts on a show for Lakers fans every game. Caruso’s path to the NBA is another unconventional one, from four years at Texas A&M, to two years with the Lakers G league team and finally taking the NBA by storm with his heart-stopping dunks. 

While Caruso lacked offensive success in the Finals, his defense, especially in Game 6, was sensational. At a Lakers media day, Coach Frank Vogel had this to say about Caruso’s defense, “Alex is an elite defender in his own right, we’d run plays that puts Alex in the best position to succeed.” 

Tasked with guarding Jimmy Butler in Game 6, Caruso showed how vital he was to the Lakers team, holding Butler to 12 points all night. In a sense, Caruso channeled his inner “Mamba Mentality,” with both his defense and shoe game, as he rocked the “Kobe 5 Protro Lakers.” 

With the quintessential Laker purple on the upper and the royal gold Kobe signature on the heel, it was the perfect shoe to both celebrate the Lakers 17th championship and remember the legend that was Kobe Bryant. 

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Which shoe is your favorite?