With NBA players arriving in Orlando, there’s been excitement and vibrancy amongst fans, podcasters, and sports media. It’s not only great to hear that sports are coming back, but it also gives us a semblance of normalcy returning. The United States has been behind on a lot of things compared to the rest of the world, and having sports return makes things feel like they are getting better. Baseball is slowly coming back but they do not have the same star power as the NBA, and we aren’t sure what will happen with the NFL yet, so having Basketball return is great to see.
There’s been a lot of discussion regarding the health and safety of players, as well as addressing the social justice issues this country is facing. Some argue that players being in the bubble detracts from their ability to speak up about injustice. NBA players returning has not been a distraction from these issues, they are actually a strong force in speaking up about these injustices. Many players are taking this opportunity to address the media and discuss the need to get justice for Breonna Taylor. It’s been an incredible sight to see and it resonates with me personally that athletes are proactively speaking up about issues. Draymond mentioned on the TNT show “The Arena” that athletes shouldn’t be forced to comment, so it’s great to see that athletes are speaking up before being asked. My hope is that it continues, not only with finding justice for Breonna Taylor, but for speaking on the issues they are passionate about, that are affecting their communities, and that need our attention. It’s important that these NBA athletes consistently and tactfully discuss the movement and ongoing social justice protests as well as their jobs as players, as they have done for decades. Here’s a link to see the work NBA players have done and stood for in just this past decade alone.
Of course matters of social justice are at the forefront, but I need to include this same stance when it comes to athletes and their shoes. Joel Embiid was recently shown on Instagram wearing Under Armour Spawns instead of his signature shoe. It makes me wonder where his signature shoes are considering they are being released this September. Why isn’t he showing them off and rallying some excitement over the release? I realize there is still time to make it happen, so I hope he shows them off soon. Dame is currently on the cover of NBA2k21 and he’s wearing his Dame 6’s. This would have been a great opportunity to show the Dame 7s. I can’t understand why brands and players are missing these opportunities, especially with all eyes in the sports world focused on them. You don’t have any other sports going on to compete with, the spotlight is on you. With 2020 being what it is, having something exciting to look forward to like a new shoe release can make a big difference.
Looking back at the rollout of Giannis’ first shoe last year, I saw a lot of issues going on. He missed wearing his signature shoe at the all-star game and at playoffs. I did an article about this at the time, so I won’t go too deep here, especially since Nike is doing a much better job now. Giannis has shown off his new shoes and Nike posts about the upcoming release date. Even if you don’t have a release date, there should be some tandem communication going on to generate that hype and excitement for fans.
I think it’s important for brands to utilize this time to promote their players and signature shoes in the bubble. All eyes are on them so I’d like to see more effort from brands, more posts about shoes and updates on the social justice initiatives they have invested in. Announce timelines and keep people in the know when it comes to releases. Post about your brand athletes, keep your followers updated on what’s happening in the bubble and turn this unusual situation into an opportunity to focus on things that are important, both externally and internally. Brands like ANTA have been silent apart from BlackOut Tuesday, it would be great to hear them say something right now, even if it’s just an announcement to support your athletes and cheering them on in the initiatives they are a part of.
Many of us have had a very trying and frustrating year and the message we received from brands and sports communities is that we will get through it together. Some have embraced this more than others. Overall we are seeing a lot of changes and realizing that the old way of doing things will no longer work. The world is forever changing and what was normal is no longer the case. I think it’s important for brands to understand that they can’t just continue as they have before, there needs to be more done and if they don’t adapt to change, they will struggle, this goes for shoes and for cultural issues. Social Media is the strongest way of communicating and if you’re not putting out anything that challenges us or gives us something new, you will fade away and lose relevance. If I’m getting my shoe information solely from other sources and not from the brands themselves, that says a lot, and not in a good way.
Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the NBA bubble, shoe releases, or comments on anything I’ve said in this post.