NEW YORK — Sixteen is a magic number in basketball. It marks the number of playoff wins a team needs to capture a National Basketball Association championship title.
And so Nike, along with its Converse and Jordan divisions, has latched onto that number and created a retro-inspired collection of 16 shoes called the Art of a Champion that celebrates special performances in NBA playoff history. The shoes will slowly be introduced to the market over the next two months and will launch with the Kobe 1 Proto “Final Seconds” on April 14. That shoe will retail for $175, and will be followed by the Converse Pro Leather Mid “The Scoop,” on April 19 ($100), and then the Air Force 1 High Retro “Rude Awakening” on April 26 ($130). The Nike Air Force 270 “Gold Standard” ($170) will be the final release on June 14.
The collection will also include a “mystery drop” that will feature this year’s NBA champion. During an event at Nike’s New York headquarters on Monday, the company drummed up interest in the collection by hosting a question-and-answer session with three former NBA greats: Ray Allen, Rasheed Wallace and Julius Erving. The men reminisced about highlights from their storied careers and the difference between today’s game and the time when they played — most notably the dependence on the three-pointer. “That gets the crowd electrified,” Wallace said. When he played in the Nineties and early Aughts, a player was a star if he had 23 three-pointer attempts in one game. “Now it’s 23 in a quarter,” he said. Erving added that it used to be “live by the jumper, die by the jumper. Now it’s live by the three-pointer, die by the three-pointer.”