We’re finishing off 2015 and our #KoFBestOf2015 strong with a slew of new content including our picks for the best sneaker of 2015. But before we get to that, let’s take a look back at the best signature shoe athlete of the year. Much like a bunch of pundits and haters who want to discredit the Golden State Warriors’ championship run, there are those who would argue that this year’s signature offerings were tainted by a slew of injuries to many of the greats. I would argue even in spite of that, there were plenty of fantastic signature kicks on the court and that the eventual winner of this category would have walked away with the title regardless of who was healthy. So who’s the winner of our NBA Kicks Signature Shoe Athlete of the Year Award? Scroll below to find out.
LeBron James (Nike LeBron 12, Nike LeBron 13)
Another year, another Finals appearance, another set of Finals player exclusives for one King James. While other Nike signature athletes have broken down with various injuries – including his own teammate and fellow nominee Kyrie Irving – LeBron has managed to stay relatively healthy to keep his name and his kicks in the news. While it’s unlikely we will look back at the Nike LeBron 12 (the 13 seems to be faring a whole lot better) with the fondness that we have for other LeBron signatures (his takedown Zoom Soldier 8 was arguably better), James’ mere presence elevates the shoe to a level it would have otherwise been unable to achieve. Plus those gold PEs he wore in the Finals are wicked fire.
Damian Lillard (adidas D Lillard 1)
Since he’s just a hop-step away from adidas HQ, Damian Lillard has the ability to do just about anything with the three stripes. You see it with kicks like the PDX or the Lumberjack colorway; the partnership is willing to tap into not only Lillard’s life, but also the eccentricities of the place that both athlete and brand inhabit. In a world where social media and instant access makes where an athlete calls home less and less relevant, magic can still be made when you’re local.
Kyrie Irving (Nike Kyrie 1)
Even though he has barely played this season and as such we haven’t seen much of the Nike Kyrie 2, the Nike Kyrie 1 could not have started off better. Within months of his signature shoe debuting, Kyrie put up a double nickel, debuted the best Nike All-Star shoe of 2015, posted a 57-point outburst against the Spurs and played well in his Finals debut (although he wouldn’t play past Game 1 due to an injury). Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant couldn’t even sniff the postseason this year since they were on sidelines for most of it. Kyrie just needs to be able to stay on the court and Nike will take care of the rest. Not a bad company to back you, if I do say so myself…
Stephen Curry (Under Armour Curry One, Under Armour Curry Two)
All he did was win in 2015. His All-Star appearance begat a Dark Matter colorway. His MVP award yielded an MVP colorway. His Championship gave way to a Championship Pack. His Warriors are 28-1 and kids are clamoring for his Dub Nation kicks. Yes, the Curry Ones or Twos might not look like the type of sneakers the typical sneakerhead uses to flex to those around them, but the more the Curry wins, the more the demand grows and if the Warriors can sustain this run of greatness for years, this is the new dynasty, both in the NBA and sneaker world. Believe that.