Aside from the handful who live completely off the grid, it’s common knowledge in Canada that the Toronto Raptors are the 2018/2019 NBA Champions.
What a ride. And what a relief from the tension that comes with participating in the ultimate playoff run.
As most fans scramble for the typical memorabilia associated with a historic win, those t-shirts, ball caps and pennants emblazoned with proclamations of the Raptors’ achievement, we sneakerheads are after something completely different.
The hot ticket for basketball and shoe fans will be coping examples of the shoes that were worn by their favorite Toronto Raptors players.
We took a quick look at the notable footwear that helped elevate our boys to the pinnacle of their sport during the final series of the championship – and at what some of the manufacturers have released since then.
Kyle Lowry #7
adidas Harden Vol. 3 “Lowry”
[G26810] Core Black/Cloud White/True Blue
There’s no question that K-Lo is the man. His drive and determination have made him a long-time fan favorite, and the spiritual captain of the team. As Lowry goes, so go the Raptors.
This exceptional adidas athlete used to wear his own player edition of the Pro Bounce Low, a model that adidas Canada no longer carries but is still available internationally.
Lowry more recently switched to the Harden Vol. 3, and given his high-calibre play it seems that it’s been a great fit for him.
For the Finals, K-Lo stuck to a blue and white colourway that we’re naming the “Lowry” in honour of his achievement: No one has achieved more wearing the Harden Vol. 3 than Lowry, not even James Harden himself.
Kawhi Leonard #2
New Balance OMN1S
New Balance rejoined the basketball sneaker wars this season alongside Puma, but instead of sponsoring a number of players like Puma, New Balance put all of its money on one man, namely Kawhi Leonard.
Leonard’s switch to New Balance was a shrewd decision: The company has shown him lots of love, and the marketing campaign surrounding him during the playoffs will be remembered for years to come.
Fun Guy. King of the North. Board Man Gets Paid.
As Raptors fans pointed out, it’s now more accurate to say ‘board man gets parade.’
Although New Balance was relatively quick to get Leonard into his new signature shoe, the company seems to have dropped the ball when it comes to giving his fans what they want. It will be close to a year after Leonard joined New Balance that a full production version of his OMN1S will be available to sneaker buyers.
New Balance’s attempts to provide an interim solution by offering limited releases were marred by website crashes and a lot of unhappy, potential customers. One very limited OMN1S, which we call the ‘Buzzer Beater,’ and three equally rare sneakers were rolled out and sold out within minutes.
On the flip side there wasn’t a shortage of OMN1Ss for the star to choose from; of the six games played during the Finals, Leonard wore five different colourways of the shoe. We will have to wait a few more months to see if any of those Finals shoes will turn into full production models.
Just like Puma’s post-championship drop, the two shoes New Balanced as part of its ‘Championship Pack’ weren’t licenced and therefore didn’t display Raptors logos or wording. The only association with the team was through the colourways that mimicked early Raptors jerseys – an odd choice given that those colours pre-dated Leonard’s involvement with the team.
Danny Green #14
Puma Clyde Court
“Title Run” Edition
It was Puma’s triumphant return to basketball that turned Green into gold.
Incorporating a colourway inspired by the Larry O’Brien Trophy, this special edition of the Clyde Court worn by Green throughout the Finals not only went the distance, they also became synonymous with the star’s remarkable talents.
The appropriately named Title Run has made its mark in sneaker history as the shoe that became a Champion in its rookie season.
It’s worthy of mention that in the wake of the NBA Finals Puma released a City Pack for the Clyde Court. The collection of six different colourways includes a Raptors themed edition in Puma Black and High Risk Red.
You won’t find the Raptors name or branding anywhere on the shoe for obvious reasons: For one it won’t dissuade anyone who just wants to buy a black and red basketball sneaker, but more importantly it skirts all the licensing hassles involved with making an overt association with the team.
Fred VanVleet #23
adidas Harden Vol. 3 “VanVleet”
G26811 [Core Black/Active Blue/Solid Grey]
As a sneaker free agent – something that should change given his remarkable post-season performance – Fred VanVleet has worn a number of different brands and models during his time in the NBA. However, for the Finals run he stuck with a pair of adidas Harden Vol. 3 b-ball shoes that were the harmonizing colourway to those that were worn by Kyle Lowry.
Lowry and VanVleet were a lethal one-two combo on the floor, and it was fitting that the two Raptors wore bookend kicks.
The Harden Vol. 3 variation that VanVleet chose includes a message on the medial side of the shoe: “No One Sees The Game Like Me.” A fitting sentiment for a player who delivers a unique style and ferocity whenever he’s on the court.