On October 21st, Ben Nethongkome gave select media some insight into the creative process behind the Kyrie 7. While Ben was describing how the 7th iteration of the shoe came to be, I couldn’t help but conjure up visuals of how Kyrie operates on the court. The shoe is just as diverse as Kyrie’s mixed bag of ball handling and crazy finishes at the rim. Optimizing performance and infusing Kyrie’s personality into this silhouette was the goal. And Ben and his team surely hit their mark.
Nethongkome has been the lead designer for the line since the Kyrie 4. He stated that his and Kyrie’s relationship started with a feeling-out process and compared it to two teammates just starting to play together and learn one another. Now in their proverbial fourth season together, they are fully in-tune and ready to maximize their joint potential. With the Kyrie 7, they’ve taken all the best parts of the latest model and added some new flavor. Ben showed Kyrie some early mockups and it was off to the races after that.
This shoe was intended to be a composite of everything that makes Kyrie who he is, on and off the court. With creativity as the cornerstone, they took elements from the previous three Kyrie models to bring something that would be amazing from a performance aspect and have lifestyle appeal as well. From a functionality standpoint, the team shaved 2 ounces off the shoe to maximize Kyrie’s speed and maneuverability. It was paramount that the Kyrie 7 be engineered to be the fastest one ever. They wanted to remove some of the heftiness and bulk from the shoe. In order to accomplish this, some concessions had to be made in regards to design. The sacrifices made aesthetically were necessary to get the desired results, performance wise.
With anything Kyrie is involved in, he is going to make sure his personality is prominently displayed in the finished product. Ben said that Kyrie has gotten progressively more hands-on, in the development of the shoe as the years have passed. And with that, a trust has been built between them. Kyrie has full confidence in Ben to bring his vision to life. The look of the shoe is inspired by four components of Kyrie’s identity: sport, art, music, and film. There’s a nod to almost every aspect of his athletic life in the shoe. A blue stripe along the sole pays homage to his Duke days. There are also some subtle tributes of sorts to his homecoming. Kyrie grew up in the Jersey area, so him playing for the Nets is definitely a full-circle moment. And of course, there is an ode to Kyrie’s friend and mentor, the late Kobe Bryant.
There are a lot of exciting things in the works for this model as well. Ben couldn’t go into great detail about what’s on the horizon for obvious reasons, but he did give a few teasers and the ideas sounded awesome. When Kyrie got the finished product, he FaceTimed Kevin Durant and his new teammate couldn’t contain his excitement. There is a possibility of some type of collaborative effort between the two as well. Kyrie also has a well-documented friendship with Sue Bird. The “Keep Sue Fresh” idea started out with Kyrie wanting to show Sue some love but eventually he gave her free reign over that project and it’s yielded some great results. If we see a mockup of the Kyrie 7, I wouldn’t be mad at that.
And as with practically everything Kyrie does these days, there have been talks of highlighting the social unrest we are currently facing. Kyrie has been extremely vocal on several issues in recent months and he is adamant about putting action behind his words. He made a donation of food and masks to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe earlier this year and also spearheaded a fund of $1.5 million to subsidize the salaries of some WNBA players who opted out of competing in the Wubble. He has also been on the front lines participating in protests throughout the quarantine. Seeing as how Kyrie often fuses every bit of himself into his creative ventures, I definitely would not be surprised to see his commitment to social justice reflected in the Kyrie 7 in some way.
It was awesome to get an inside look at how the latest addition to the Kyrie line came to be. It might be the best iteration yet. This will definitely be a highly sought after model. Kyrie expressed that he has been extremely happy with the performance of the shoe during training camp and after having some time off to get back to 100% health, he’s ready to unleash the 7 on the league. It’s going to be interesting to see what else Ben, Kyrie, and the rest of the team cook up in the future. There is no doubt they will continue to push the envelope and create something dope for the masses.