Spencer’s Sneaker Game



Spencer’s Sneaker Game

Spencer Dinwiddie is making a statement and raising money for his foundation with one-of-a-kind sneaker designs

It's not a surprise when Spencer Dinwiddie has something to say.

The Brooklyn Nets guard burst on to the scene last season with his crunch-time heroics, his victory at the NBA All-Star Weekend's Skills Competition, and his status as a finalist for the league's Most Improved Player award, all coming after an unexpected elevation to the starting lineup following injuries to D'Angelo Russell and Jeremy Lin.

Whatever spotlight Dinwiddie drew last season was hard-earned: coming back from a knee injury in college at Colorado, persevering through a stint in the G League before signing with Brooklyn, proving he deserved to be part of the rotation on a team with plenty of guard options.

Now that folks are interested in what Dinwiddie had to say, he has hasn't held back. For the 2018-19 season, Dinwiddie has added a new medium to express what's running through his head with custom-designed sneakers, one for each of Brooklyn's 82 games. Over the season's first month, Dinwiddie debuted designs paying tribute to Rosa Parks, Jesse Owens, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Cheryl Miller, and Muhammad Ali. He designed one shoe to thank the media, and another inspired by the movie Child's Play to wear on Halloween.

Some of the designs have been tailored to that evening's opponent -- Allen Iverson when the Nets played the Sixers at home, Spike Lee when they played the Knicks at MSG -- in a theme that will continue throughout the season.

"A lot of the away games are inspired by a theme that's more native to that city," said Dinwiddie. "A lot of the home games are going to be a little more inspired by something close to me, in general. Obviously, we're going to do Biggie, we're going to do stuff like that, that's very Brooklyn. But for 40 Brooklyn games, you're going to get a little bit more of a tour into my mind and stuff that I like. And I think the away games we're kind of going to more appeal to their culture."

Dinwiddie's sneaker project also continues an initiative he launched last season, raising funds for the Dinwiddie Family Foundation to fund college scholarships. The goal last season was to get an autographed game-used item after every game from himself, a teammate or an opponent and auction it off to support the foundation.

Obtaining the items wasn't always easy, but Dinwiddie found a supportive audience when he did. So this year, it's all him, with each sneaker auctioned off and 100 percent of the proceeds going to charity.

"It's my shoe," said Dinwiddie. "Obviously I played in it. I just take a sharpie, sign it, and you know which game I wore it, because it's a one-of-one. There's no more like it, ever, in history."

In addition, there is a black version of the sneaker designed for mass production scheduled to be available for retail beginning December 8 -- both his grandmother's and his little brother's birthday -- with 25.08 percent of the sales also going to charity, representing his college jersey number and his number with the Nets.

It's a project almost two years in the making, back to the beginning of his time in Brooklyn. When he didn't get much attention from the established sneaker companies, Dinwiddie did a very Dinwiddie thing -- he set out to create his own path.

Partnering with Project Dream, a company which assists in brand development, Dinwiddie began pursuing the sneaker idea. It was something that was near to being ready to roll out last season before they decided to wait and align with the beginning of the 2018-19 season. Over the summer, while visiting China to play in Jeremy Lin's charity basketball game, he even took a tour of the factory where the sneakers are produced.

"You entertain the idea, you're trying to see things and see how it's received, what people think," said Dinwiddie. "Obviously, you just have to get to a place where everything is perfect and ready to go. That's kind of the hardship of being the initial proof of concept. But it could definitely pay off later. Because of where I was in my career, and the way I think, I wanted to have fun with it. Now we're here. And it's fun."

Part of the fun was in connecting with sneaker artist Kickasso, who had previously worked largely with football players on custom cleats, including Odell Beckham Jr. Dinwiddie has most of the season planned out, and Kickasso designs the sneakers in blocks of 15 at a time.

Relatively late in the process of planning out designs for the season, they got a surprise gift when the NBA changed its uniform guidelines to allow players to wear sneakers of any color, rather than being restricted largely to black, white, or team colors. That changed everything for Dinwiddie and Kickasso.

"I didn't know that! They messed up by doing that! Because, I wanted to do 82 different ones, but I was going to do them in all black and white," said Dinwiddie. "And they would have more of a graffiti style. But it was going to be dope. When they lifted the color restrictions and all these other restrictions, I was like, 'boy, y'all shouldn't have done that!' It was just a perfect storm honestly. And now we're just having fun with it. You guys are going to see a lot more."

Maybe an Iron Man sneaker to be added to the retail offerings, for Dinwiddie's favorite superhero? Dinwiddie's not sure yet. But he's not short on ideas.

"Everything just had to get ready," said Dinwiddie. "Everything had to be perfect. Because I didn't want to put anything out there in the air, in the public, that wasn't perfect. So all the ideas that we were throwing around and bouncing off each other, it just takes time for things to be perfect. That's where we are right now. It all came together."