There is possibly no team in NBA history that has employed more stars over its existence than the Los Angeles Lakers. From Jerry West, to Magic Johnson, to Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and nearly countless others, there have been some incredible players to wear the purple and gold.
Since the advent of sneaker culture, that history has also meant the team has seen its fair share of classic signature shoes, most notably with Bryant and James. That has not gone unnoticed by current James teammates, Bryant protege and sneakerhead Kyle Kuzma, who told Nick DePaula of ESPN that amazing shoes are just how the Lakers do things.
In just a few years, Kuzma went from idolizing Kobe Bryant and his sneaker line to teaming up with Nike’s current headliner in LeBron James for a historic franchise. “You always see guys with classic sneakers playing here,” he said.
And while Kuzma doesn’t have a classic sneaker of his own, he has gotten to wear some. He memorably had the opportunity to do an ad for Bryant’s Kobe 1 Protros when Nike released the “Final Seconds” colorway, and was one of the first players to debut the self-lacing Nike Adapt BB. Those are opportunities he may not have gotten if he weren’t arguably the most famous Laker without a signature shoe of his own.
James has one of those, so he’ll be able to handle all the debuts for his sneakers — something the retired Bryant can no longer do — but Kuzma has been able to impress James with some classics from James’ extensive catalog of signatures, most notably wearing the first shoes that James ever wore as an NBA player through his partnership with GOAT, a sneaker reselling platform.
That partnership is innovative in it’s own right, as Kuzma is the first NBA player to partner with a shoe reseller, so while he might not be able to innovate with a signature shoe yet like Bryant and James have, Kuzma is still making his own mark on the NBA sneaker business.
And who knows? Kuzma is as dedicated to improve as anyone, and as popular as any young Laker. It’s not the most likely outcome, but maybe one day he joins Bryant and James in the pantheon of Lakers sneaker greats.