Santi Aldama realized that he had broken one of the most notorious unwritten rules in the NBA.
“Oh (expletive), I forgot,” the Grizzlies forward explained.
Aldama was wearing a pair of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s signature sneakers in a game against the Milwaukee Bucks. Antetokounmpo’s sneakers have been worn OK for 80 of the 82 Grizzlies games each season, but twice a year, Aldama is expected to change shoes when the Bucks star is the opponent.
Aldama also shared another reminder from last season during the shootout when Dillon Brooks reminded him that he shouldn’t be wearing the sneakers for an upcoming opponent later that day.
“He’s gone mad,” said Aldama. “I was like, ‘Yeah bro, I wasn’t planning on wearing it, don’t worry about it.'” “”
Blame it on being a beginner. He didn’t let that happen during his second season.
Well, Aldama slipped again earlier this season. This time it was his girlfriend who reminded him of his mistake against Brooklyn when he was wearing the shoes of Nets star guard Kyrie Irving.
“It’s a disgrace to the entire league,” Brooks said.
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Not wearing an opposing opponent’s sneakers is not a sign of disrespect. Most guys say it’s more mental than anything else. NBA players use the smallest of things to gain an advantage, and this unwritten rule goes back to the last generation of players.
When LeBron James played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, his teammates weren’t allowed to wear sneakers starring Golden State star Stephen Curry.
Notably, Hall of Famer Paul Pierce did not like his Boston or Washington teammates to wear James’ shoes. One of the main reasons was because of how James would react if he saw him.
“If you see a guy wearing my shoes, if he’s not like my real brother – because you know I’ve got some LeBron guys on and that’s what we do – but if you’re just a guy and you go to Foot Locker or somewhere and you just get a pair of LeBrons and you want to wear them on Tuesday night Against me?, James said in a 2015 interview with GQ.
Tyreke Evans and Mario Chalmers imparted the knowledge to Brooks in Memphis. When Tyus Jones played for the Minnesota Timberwolves, he learned from Kevin Garnett and Tayshaun Prince.
Brooks, Jones, and Kyle Anderson were among the players who made current Grizzlies players aware of why most NBA players follow this rule.
Jones wears Kyrie 7s in most NBA games. When Memphis played the Nets last month, he opted to don Kobe Bryant’s shoes.
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“You don’t play against anyone who has their shoes on, because they already have the upper hand,” Jones said. “That has to be kind of our mentality. We’re playing against someone, we don’t put their shoes on. It’s not disrespectful, nothing like that. It’s definitely a mental thing.”
This sentiment has pervaded most of the locker room, especially when the Grizzlies are playing for the Nets. Garen Jackson Jr. has been wearing Kevin Durant’s sneakers for most games, but he didn’t do so against the Nets last season. Ja Morant often wears KD and Kyries jerseys, but he picked the Kobe 11s against Brooklyn.
Is it more about convenience than the name?
Although most players in the Grizzlies locker room follow the unwritten rule, this isn’t the case for everyone.
Xavier Tillman Sr. He’s a huge fan of the comfort of the Nike Zoom Freak series from Antetokounmpo. He had heard players talking about not putting on the opponent’s shoes, but for him, there was a problem.
“I’m like, ‘Shoot, I don’t have other shoes,'” Tillman said.
Tillman mentioned how he wouldn’t feel comfortable switching into shoes he didn’t wear regularly, and that was the case for Brandon Clark as well.
“When I play Durant, I wear his shoes proudly,” Clark said.
Grizzlies players don’t force their teammates to follow this rule, but it’s something most of the NBA considers. From Nike to Jordan, Adidas, Under Armor, Puma, Li-Ning, Anta, New Balance and 361°, 22 current NBA players have signature shoes.
“If the shoes are comfortable, wear them,” Brooks said. “It’s just one of those things in the NBA.”
Among the active players, Grizzlies players most often wear Nike shoes from Durant, Irving, Antetokounmpo and Paul George. Adidas athlete Zier Williams mostly wears Donovan Mitchell sneakers.
It may have taken a while, but when Aldama played for the Nets on Sunday, he wore the Nike Zoom Freaks from Antetokounmpo. More importantly, when Aldama is scheduled to play against Milwaukee, he will switch to Kyries. He knows the deal now.
“It makes sense not to put their shoes on,” said Aldama, “because it’s mental.”