Kawhi Leonard Has Quietly Been Wearing Some of the Hottest Sneakers in the Bubble

Kawhi Leonard Has Quietly Been Wearing Some of the Hottest Sneakers in the Bubble

Kawhi Leonard’s hands defy the known limits of anatomy. A rangy 9.75 inches wide and 11.75 inches long—almost a whole friggin’ foot!—they are the most physically confounding features of an altogether physically confounding human being. They’re capable of swiping loose balls out of midair from Matrix-esque angles, extending past the similarly stupefying frame of one Giannis Antetokounmpo for a poster dunk, and, as we learned last week, denying a vicious attack on the rim with a single tree branch of a finger. There’s a reason his nickname—not to mention his estranged personal logo—is “The Klaw.”

Lately, though, Kawhi’s given us a whole new set of appendages to gawk at: his feet. All through the NBA’s restart, they’ve been laced up in The Kawhi, the reigning Finals MVP’s first true signature shoe from New Balance. It’s a quietly menacing mid-top silhouette, replete with intricate details along the uppers, and advanced tech under the hood befitting one of the stealthiest apex predators in the league. Which makes sense, given the man himself had a gargantuan hand in the shoe’s conception and creation.

Courtesy of New Balance

Generally speaking, most signature sneakers are signature in name only—the designers will craft it with the player in mind, the player comes in to see some samples late in the development process, maybe a few tweaks are made once he’s had a chance to see them and hoop in ‘em a couple of times. That’s not how things worked with Kawhi. “I’ve never worked with a more engaged athlete,” says Jonathan Grondin, New Balance’s creative design manager. “He wanted to learn Adobe Illustrator. He wanted to understand more about the materials. He wanted to know the real names of things. I’d mention ‘the toe part’ to him in a meeting, and he’d go, ‘No, no, I heard you call that something else to the team. Make sure you give me all the technical terms.’”

According to Grondin, The Kawhi took “like 40 iterations, moving millimeters at a time,” and—true to his reputation as one of the league’s most incisive, analytical minds—its namesake “labored over every part of the shoe.” Thankfully, it was never too difficult to decipher when Kawhi was feeling the direction the design team was taking. “We kind of measure our success with him in a meeting by how many times we get the Kawhi laugh,” Grondin chuckles. “If you hear that A-ha-haaaa! you know you’re heading the right way.”

Source : Yang-Yi Goh Link

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