How Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier became MLB’s king of custom cleats Fear of Gods, Space Jams, Travis Scotts — Frazier has worn them all and more on the filed to bring some swag to baseball

The night before a game against the Boston Red Sox in mid-April, Clint Frazier might as well have been a kid picking his outfit for the first day of school.

The 24-year-old New York Yankees outfielder wanted to look fresh for the first series of the 2019 Major League Baseball season between the two rival teams. He specifically envisioned pairing Yankees pinstripes with one of his favorite pairs of sneakers, the Nigel Sylvester Air Jordan 1s. But to take the baseball field in basketball shoes, Frazier needed some help. So he sent the Jordans to Anthony Ambrosini, founder and owner of Custom Cleats Inc., who’s been converting basketball and lifestyle sneakers into wearable footwear for grass and turf for 15 years.

“I texted Clint saying I got them,” Ambrosini recalled, “and he said, ‘Can you have them for me for the game tomorrow?’ … I told him, ‘It’s 10 o’clock at night, and I haven’t even started them.’ ” Yet Frazier pleaded, and Ambrosini obliged. He went into his Long Island, New York, shop after hours and added metal spikes to the bottoms of the shoes. By the next day, they’d make it to Yankee Stadium, ready for Frazier to lace up before the game.

In the bottom of the fourth inning of the Yankees’ 8-0 win over the Red Sox on April 16 — when the two teams partook in the league’s annual celebration of Jackie Robinson Day — Frazier launched a 354-foot home run to right-center field, with Robinson’s No. 42 on the back of his uniform and Nigel Sylvester 1s on his feet. It had to be the shoes, right?

“Look good, feel good. Feel good, play good. Play good, get paid good,” said Frazier, paraphrasing the timeless saying from the great Deion Sanders. “I’m trying to do all those.”

That’s certainly been the motto for the Yankees phenom. In the first few months of the season, Frazier has become Major League Baseball’s king of custom cleats. In 39 games, he’s worn 13 different pairs — from Air Jordan 6s to high- and low-top Air Jordan 11s, Nike Fear of Gods and Air Force 1s, as well as multiple models of his most beloved sneaker, the Air Jordan 1. All of his cleats have been converted by Ambrosini, marking a partnership that’s really only just beginning.

“My goal is to have as many pairs of custom cleats as I can over the 162-game season,” said Frazier, who’s batting .270 with 10 home runs and 28 RBIs. “I’m trying to bring a little swagger to baseball.”


With the fifth overall pick in the 2013 MLB first-year player draft, the Cleveland Indians selected the then-18-year-old Frazier out of Loganville High School, near his hometown of Decatur, Georgia. Frazier, who was named the Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year during his senior season, had already committed to play at the University of Georgia. Yet he decided to sign with the Indians and go straight from high school to the big leagues.

Frazier wouldn’t make his MLB debut until July 1, 2017, less than a year after being traded from Cleveland to New York and emerging as the No. 1 prospect in the Yankees organization. He spent his first season in the majors endorsed by Under Armour before Adidas signed him in 2018. Heading into his third MLB season, Frazier was due for a change.

“I dropped my contract with Adidas,” Frazier said, “and told myself I was just gonna go the solo route and convert shoes into cleats.”

Frazier could’ve bought pairs of Air Jordan 11 cleats that debuted in 2018. He also could’ve waited until late March, right before the start of MLB’s regular season, when the Jordan Brand dropped a collection of Air Jordan 1 cleats. But what he truly sought was the liberty to wear whatever he wanted on the field. Frazier was anxious to start commissioning conversions. He just had to find someone capable of transforming any sneaker he imagined into a cleat. In mid-February, three days before Yankees position players were scheduled to report to the team’s spring training facility in Tampa, Florida, he took to Twitter in search of a customizer:

Most of the replies pointed Frazier in the direction of Custom Cleats, and one of his teammates specifically referred him to the company’s owner. Coming off double-heel surgery in 2018, veteran Yankees shortstop Troy Tulowitzki had Ambrosini make him pairs of LeBron James’ signature Nikes that proved to be more comfortable to wear than traditional cleats as he recovered from the injury.

“Troy took those LeBrons to spring training, and I guess Clint saw them,” said Ambrosini, who began making cleats in the early 2000s while playing in the minor leagues within the Montreal Expos organization. The first pair he converted was Kobe Bryant’s Nike Huaraches for his younger brother and Class A teammate, Dominick Ambrosini, a sixth-round draft pick by the Expos in 1999. Now the elder Ambrosini does custom baseball and golf cleats for athletes all across the country, including Chicago Cubs All-Stars Anthony Rizzo and Jon Lester, retired seven-time Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Roger Clemens and future first-ballot Basketball Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade. Business is booming at Custom Cleats Inc., which boasts 100,000 followers on the company’s Instagram page.

“I got a text from Tulowitzki’s agent,” Ambrosini continued, “letting me know that Clint was gonna give me a call.”

Frazier’s first commission was a pair of “Shadow” Air Jordan 1s that he wanted to wear in spring training. Ambrosini completed the conversion and shipped the shoes down to Florida. Frazier was so excited once they arrived that he sprinted from the mailroom of George M. Steinbrenner Field into the Yankees’ clubhouse to open the package. Ambrosini had passed Frazier’s test. And the focus shifted to what he’d wear during the regular season.

“I don’t think anybody knew how serious I was about trying to make this a real thing,” Frazier said. “I told Anthony, ‘Look, man. This is kind of my vision. I want to make this into something big. I want to continue to send you a bunch of shoes to make into cleats throughout the year.’ ”

Their system is simple: Frazier cops size 10.5s in the dopest kicks he can find and sends them to Ambrosini, who replaces the rubber soles on each pair of shoes with custom-manufactured spiked cleat bottoms. He can turn around a sneaker in less than a day before having it hand-delivered to Yankee Stadium or shipped out to Frazier if the team is on the road.

“We kicked around ideas about shoes we wanted to do. One night, Clint called me from Flight Club,” said Ambrosini of the popular sneaker boutique in New York City’s East Village. “He was on the phone like, ‘Yo, man. What shoes should I get? I’m staring at all these shoes. There’s so many options, I don’t know what to pick.’ I’m like, ‘Just pick something that you love, that’s comfortable and that’s got the colors that you can wear.’ ”

Clint Frazier of the New York Yankees in action against the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium on April 20. The Yankees defeated the Royals 9-2.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

That’s right: Frazier has to remain compliant with the MLB uniform guidelines. He hasn’t run into any trouble so far, although he’s broken out all different kinds of flavors with his cleats. Frazier made his season debut on April 2 in a pair of “Olympic” Air Jordan 6s. He hit his first home run of the year on the road against the Baltimore Orioles wearing those “Shadow” 1s from spring training. A day later, still at Camden Yards in Baltimore wearing the Shadows, he went deep twice in one game.

“It almost felt like whenever I wore a new pair of cleats, I’d hit a home run,” Frazier said. “That’s why I was breaking out different shoes. I was like, ‘Damn, man. I just hit a home run in all of them.’ ”

His next homer came against the Red Sox in the Nigel Sylvester 1s. Last year, Queens, New York, native and professional BMX rider Nigel Sylvester collaborated with Jordan Brand for his own edition of the Air Jordan 1. Frazier loves that shoe so much that he has two pairs: one that he wears off the field and another that he got converted into cleats. Sylvester had never seen or heard of the flashy, red-haired Yankees outfielder until the night his friend sent him a random direct message: “Yo! I’m at the game and homie is wearing your shoes as cleats.” Sylvester was flattered by the gesture.

“Being a New York City kid, I definitely have a spot in my heart for the Yankees,” Sylvester said. “To see Clint hit a home run and run the bases in my shoe — bro, it was so crazy. Definitely a moment in my career I will never, ever forget. … He’s brought a level of excitement to the game that’s needed. … At the end of the day, he’s being creative, and I always respect creativity, especially on such a big stage.”

The day after the game, Sylvester showed Frazier some love on Instagram, and designer Jerry Lorenzo (the son of former MLB player and manager Jerry Manuel) commented on the post. Similar to Sylvester’s collaboration with the Jordan Brand, Lorenzo, founder of the stylish streetwear label Fear of God, has teamed up with Nike for two collections of his own sneakers. Frazier saw Lorenzo’s comment and slyly replied, “I got something for u on Friday.”

That Friday, April 19, Frazier whipped out a pair of the Nike Air Fear of God Shoot Around. Oh, and the heat didn’t stop there. He’s also worn a collection of Air Jordan 11s in the “Win like ’82,’ ” “Space Jam” and low-top “Navy Snakeskin” colorways. Two weeks before the release of the “Cap and Gown” Air Jordan 13s, Frazier had them on his feet in the batter’s box.

“Clint definitely represents the hypebeast culture as far as style,” Ambrosini said. “That’s what makes him stand out so much. He’s so in tune with the awesomeness of all the sneakers that are out, and he’s not afraid to get out there and wear them. There’s a lot of guys I do conversions for that at first glance you really can’t tell it was a sneaker — it blends in so much with the uniform. … But Clint is finding the coolest shoes. … They’re so sick and they stand out so much that that’s what’s making him stand out too.”

Frazier has even paid homage to a true Yankees legend with pairs of Derek Jeter’s “Re2pect” Air Jordan 1s and low-top Air Jordan 11s. In 1998, shortly after the official launch of the Jordan Brand, Jeter became the first baseball player to be endorsed by Jordan. Now, 11 active players represent the Jordan Brand in Major League Baseball: New York Yankees pitcher Dellin Betances, Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts, St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Gio Gonzalez, Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks, Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, San Diego Padres infielder Manny Machado, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, Boston Red Sox pitcher David Price, Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia and Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Taijuan Walker.

Three of Frazier’s teammates are Jordan guys, and 11 of his 13 pairs of custom cleats are Air Jordans. But landing an endorsement deal isn’t necessarily on his mind.

Clint Frazier of the New York Yankees bats during a game against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards in Baltimore on April 4.

Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images

“Jordan is my favorite brand,” Frazier said. “I obviously would love to be a part of the brand one day, but I also don’t want to lose my independence or my freedom with the ability to wear whatever cleat I wanna wear.”

Instead, Frazier has modeled his movement after another athlete who’s embraced not having a shoe contract: veteran Houston Rockets forward and NBA sneaker king P.J. Tucker.

“I’m not a huge basketball guy, but I know who P.J. Tucker is from the buzz he’s created because of all the shoes he’s wearing,” Frazier said. “That was kind of my goal, to build off of his platform. In baseball, we don’t have a lot of guys that have done this.”

No shoe deal means Frazier has an expensive hobby — especially if he’s doubling and tripling up on pairs of certain sneakers to wear off the field, during batting practice and in a cleated version during games. Frazier is definitely a sneakerhead, although his collection isn’t as big as you’d think. “I probably have 50 to 60 pairs,” he said. “But that’s gonna continue to grow — I know that. And I know my cleats collection is gonna probably be bigger than my actual shoe collection.”

Inside the Yankees’ clubhouse this season, a few of Frazier’s teammates call him “Canal Street Clint.” It’s a notorious nickname due to the reputation of that area of New York City. Basically, Canal is the mecca of knockoff designer merchandise, a place you go to find cheap Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada and more, albeit fake or counterfeited. Frazier doesn’t shop there, but he earned the moniker because what he plays in aren’t real cleats made for baseball. But they’re real to him, and the people who’ve taken notice: clubhouse attendants from opposing teams who come to his locker asking if they can see a few of his pairs, pitchers and catchers he spots staring at his feet, and even the dudes whose shoes he’s wearing.

“Guys have worn dope a– shoes on the diamond, but the way that Clint’s doing it, it’s kinda crazy,” Sylvester said. “He’s flipping shoes that aren’t meant to be cleats into cleats. Which is so dope.”

Despite the jokes, Frazier plans to keep the customs coming.

“I’m creating a new wave of style in baseball,” he said over the phone from a West Coast road trip in late April, two days after suffering a Grade 2 left ankle sprain with two partially torn ligaments. The injury kept him off the field for 11 games. But when he returned in the second week of May, of course he did so in style.

Frazier debuted five pairs in seven days, including superstar rapper Travis Scott’s “Sail” Nike Air Force 1s and his new Air Jordan 1s, perhaps the most hyped sneaker release of the year. On Twitter, Scott gave Frazier his stamp of approval.

For a game on Mother’s Day, Frazier and Ambrosini teamed up with famed sneaker artist Dan “Mache” Gamache for a pair of custom-painted Air Jordan 1 cleats, featuring his mom’s two cats.

In late May, Ambrosini shared a photo of his latest creation: a pair of suede “Cool Grey” Kaws x Air Jordan 4s, which dropped in March 2017 for $350 but have skyrocketed in value and now resell on GOAT in a size 10.5 for $1,435. The caption on the post read, “Tag someone that might take @kaws to the diamond.” Of course, most people shouted out Frazier, including Houston Astros outfielder Derek Fisher, who commented, “@clintfrazierr might be the only one insane enough.”

And Frazier responded, confirming everyone’s inkling.

“What if i told you those are mine,” Frazier wrote under the comment, “i just haven’t worn them yet?”

The plan: Debut the Kaws 4s at Yankee Stadium when the Red Sox are in town this week. For a four-game series against Boston, it was only right that he broke out a fresh new pair of custom cleats.

But with four months left in the season, the question is, what else does Clint Frazier have in his bag?

“I’ve got some stuff in the works,” he said. “Just keep watching.”

WNBA Kicks proving female players are sneakerheads too Meet the two visionaries behind the premier sneaker platform of the WNBA

The idea popped into Bria Janelle’s head in an unlikely place, but it didn’t come out of nowhere.

“I was in the shower one day and thought to myself, ‘WNBA Kicks,’ ” recalled Janelle, a former Division II college basketball player turned professional entertainment emcee and in-arena host. She envisioned a platform that, for some reason, had never been created — one dedicated to women, the WNBA and sneakers.

“People say out of frustration comes creation,” said Janelle, a native of Snellville, Georgia, which is about 35 minutes east of Atlanta. “I’ve always had an interest in shoes and the whole aspect of seeing what different outlets have done with sneakers. But I realized it was so saturated on the male side, and NBA side, of sneakers. I’m like, ‘Everybody is doing the same exact thing … how can I do something so far-fetched, so different that no one is even thinking about?’ ”

An injury ended Janelle’s playing career after three years at Mars Hill University in North Carolina, leading her to transfer to Georgia Southern University, where she graduated in 2011 with a degree in radio and television broadcasting. On-air campus appearances led to opportunities in Atlanta radio, and eventually a career. Over the past several years, Janelle has toured as emcee with WWE, worked with the Atlanta Hawks on a monthly web show and served as a host for the McDonald’s All American Game. Success in the field provided Janelle the means to grow her sneaker collection, which now checks in at about 130 pairs. Eventually, she wanted to find a way to represent a subculture of people like her: female sneakerheads.

Janelle was inspired by the WNBA’s biggest sneakerhead, Tamera “Ty” Young, who in 2008 became the first draft pick in the history of the Atlanta Dream franchise. Young, who now plays for the Las Vegas Aces but keeps her primary residence in Atlanta, has a massive sneaker collection that exceeds 600 pairs, even though she’s never had an endorsement deal with a sportswear brand.

“Ty Young being in Atlanta for years, you peep her at different events and it was like, ‘Yo, I’ve never seen her double up on a pair of sneakers,’ ” Janelle said. In the lead-up to the 2018 WNBA season, she ran into Young and told her she had something in the works. Janelle also hit up one of her close friends in the league, Alex Bentley, a member of the Connecticut Sun at the time who was playing overseas during the WNBA’s offseason.

“I never forget. It was like 3 o’clock in the morning in Russia and I said, ‘Hey, I got an idea. What do you think about this?’ ” Janelle recalled of her conversation with Bentley, who now plays for the Dream. “She said, ‘That’s dope. No one’s covered the WNBA’s sneaker culture. … Go for it. You’ve got my support.’ ”

But to make this thing work, Janelle needed help. So she reached out to Melani Carter, a sports producer who shared a similar frustration about the lack of WNBA coverage, having spent four years working at Turner Sports on NBA TV and NBA League Pass. The two friends remember meeting at a restaurant one night in Atlanta and talking for hours.

“As we started strategizing, I was saying, ‘This could be a segue into really showcasing women in another light,’ ” said Carter, who’s been collecting shoes since the early 2000s. “And what better way to start … than with sneaker culture?”

In February 2018, Janelle and Carter co-founded @WNBAKicks. And for the past year, the platform’s Instagram and Twitter accounts have served as the authoritative voice of sneakers in the WNBA despite not being officially affiliated with the league. Original video, interviews and, most notably, exclusive photos and videos of shoes players are copping and lacing up on and off the court — WNBA Kicks offers all this and more.

“We’ve never really had anything like WNBA Kicks,” said Seattle Storm point guard Sue Bird, a 17-year veteran and three-time league champion, in April at the 2019 WNBA draft. “Yeah, the WNBA page can post our shoes, but sometimes you need people on the outside, different voices, to show people what’s what. To have this separate page that’s completely independent, showing the sneakers that we wear and really our personalities, it’s crucial.”

WNBA Kicks has amassed more than 20,000 followers on Instagram and another 2,300 on Twitter. It’s an operation that quickly transformed into a legit media outlet after establishing a network of contributors in WNBA markets across the country and expanding its staff to include a head of marketing and digital strategist. Now, the start of the 2019 WNBA season brings the launch of wnbakicks.com, marking the next chapter for a platform that’s evolved from the unique vision of its two co-founders.

“WNBA Kicks has become that safe haven for WNBA players,” Janelle said. “We told them, ‘Trust us to tell your story and show how dope you are, and we won’t steer you wrong.’ … It’s not about athletic ability, sexuality or the themes you always see talked about surrounding the WNBA. It’s about the fact that these players have sneaker collections just as good as some of the guys, if not better. And here’s a platform — just for them.”

What makes WNBA Kicks so authentic is players in the league support the platform 100% by providing daily content.

“Whenever they need a photo of my shoes, I’m always open to sending it to them,” said Phoenix Mercury guard Essence Carson. “The check-ins, they’re great, especially when a lot of players are gone and playing abroad in the offseason. It’s a good way to keep the fans’ attention and have them interact with the players.”

When Young uploads a picture of the sneakers she’s wearing to her Instagram Stories, she often tags @WNBAKicks. Janelle will then reach out for the original image to post on the page. Sometimes, Young even sends photos to the account via direct message so the platform can exclusively share the latest shoes she’s picked up.

“The cool thing is you have players taking pictures and videos of their own shoes or their teammates’ shoes to post on that page,” said retired WNBA Hall of Famer and ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo. “It’s not like they’re always posting themselves. The players are doing it for WNBA Kicks. I think that’s a really, really cool thing. It’s a partnership in a way.”

Sneaker culture in the WNBA has evolved quite a bit since Lobo played in the league from 1997 to 2003 and received her own signature shoe from Reebok, called The Lobo, during her rookie season.

“The only sneakers that were really covered back then were the Nike Air Swoopes, because Cheryl Swoopes was the first woman to have a signature shoe. That was a really big deal,” Lobo said. “In my generation, they didn’t even make women’s basketball sneakers. You figured out which men’s size you wore, because they didn’t even have them in women’s sizes. Sneakers in the WNBA weren’t really a thing. For the most part, everybody in the league wore the same style of shoe.”

The landscape has also changed since Carson and Young entered the WNBA more than a decade ago after being taken back-to-back with the seventh and eighth overall picks, respectively, in the 2008 draft. At the time, the WNBA was sponsored by Adidas, and strict uniform guidelines required players to wear league-approved shoes that were either predominantly white or black. Two years later in 2010, Instagram was founded as a social network that fostered creativity and expression while helping people transform into their own brands. And in the realm of style and fashion, Instagram became a place where both men and women could put on a display of their passion for sneakers.

“In previous years, women weren’t really looked at as sneakerheads,” Carson said. “But over the course of time, in the sneaker community, you’ve seen that change. As women move forward, so does the WNBA, because we’re women first and basketball players second. And now we have the platform to showcase that we can push sneaker culture even further.”

There’s a new era in the WNBA of players wearing whatever sneakers they want, whenever they want, due in large part to the emergence of WNBA Kicks in 2018.

@WNBAKicks co-founders Bria Janelle (left) and Melani Carter (right).

Simeon Kelley

“Last year, because of WNBA Kicks, people wanted to have more heat for games,” Young said. “They wanted to get that notoriety on social media. Like, ‘Oh, look what shoes she’s wearing!’ It made people who weren’t sneakerheads before want to bring out exclusive shoes or stuff that was more cool to show out. It became a popular trend, something to do.”

The latest and hottest releases, retros, customs, player exclusives. Basically, every shoe imaginable graced the hardwood of arenas across the league last season on the feet of WNBA players.

“The most unique thing we’ve did is attract the brands to the players,” Carter said. “So if brands said, ‘We don’t know if she has a following … we don’t know if she could help sell a product,’ we were showing them that they can. … It’s really about more than just sneakers.”

Janelle recalls a conversation she and Carter had with a sportswear company (the identity of which they chose not to disclose) in which they learned that the brand had sent out more pairs of sneakers to WNBA players last season than it did in the past 10 years. “Players were requesting shoes,” Janelle said, “because they wanted to be on the page.”

In the early days of the platform, Janelle and Carter wanted to ensure they acknowledged the players in the league with the hottest shoes. So last May, WNBA Kicks dropped its 2018 “Top 10 Sneakerheads List.”

“We really didn’t think it was going to be controversial,” Carter said. “It was more so like, ‘Let’s get this out there. Let’s let people know we’re here.’ When we released the list, people were like, ‘I didn’t make it? How am I No. 10? How am I No. 8? Why is she No. 1?’ Some players were mad. This was league news at this point. So it was like, ‘OK. This has to be our staple.’ That Top 10 list was the point that we can say the players really started paying attention, and the fans did too.”

The full list:

10. Monique Currie, Washington Mystics (now retired)

9. Elena Delle Donne, Washington Mystics

8. Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm

7. Alex Bentley, Connecticut Sun (now of the Atlanta Dream)

6. Sue Bird, Seattle Storm

5. Erica Wheeler, Indiana Fever

4. Seimone Augustus, Minnesota Lynx

3. Epiphanny Prince, New York Liberty

2. Cappie Pondexter, Los Angeles Sparks/Indiana Fever (now retired)

1. Tamera Young, Las Vegas Aces

“When it got to No. 1, a lot of people didn’t expect it to be me,” Young said. “People didn’t know at the time how many kicks I had or how much I was into this. But it was a great feeling to know that something I’ve always loved I got notoriety for — even without having a shoe deal. I did this on my own. This is a hobby. I love sneakers. And I’ve always been that way, even since I was a little girl. I’m not just a collector. I wear all my kicks. So I thought it was superdope.”

Will she defend her crown in 2019?

“Of course. Not much has really changed. People have been showing all of their sneakers, but I don’t think anybody is topping me,” said Young, who in 2018, for the first time in her career, was posted on mainstream sneaker platforms such as @brkicks and @slamkicks. “WNBA Kicks started bringing different attention to us. I’ve never been a signed athlete, so people didn’t even know the type of heat I had.”

Hoping to capitalize on the trend of viral online challenges, the platform launched the #WNBAKicksChallenge, which encouraged players, broadcasters, coaches, fans and others to take a video showing off their collections, then dare others to do the same. The Minnesota Lynx’s Seimone Augustus, Indiana Fever’s Erica Wheeler, Chicago Sky’s Diamond DeShields and more active players partook, while retired WNBA stars such as Lobo, Tina Thompson, Dawn Staley and Lisa Leslie also got involved. ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe even did the challenge and showed off her favorite pair of sneakers, which were given to her by WNBA sisters Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike when Rowe was first diagnosed with cancer.

“WNBA Kicks is showing we got sneakers like P.J. Tucker, James Harden or Kyrie Irving,” said Seattle Storm guard Shavonte Zellous. “To showcase what we have is a blessing, so everybody can stop putting us in a box and expand their brains a little bit.”

WNBA Kicks has even put the NBA on notice. Tucker, Harden and their Houston Rockets teammate Chris Paul have all been interviewed by the platform, and Irving has reposted one of its videos to his Instagram. Future NBA Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade posted a picture of Young after she became the first WNBA player to wear a pair of his signature Li-Ning Way of Wades, ending the caption with @wnbakicks.

On Christmas Day in 2018, under the familiar-sounding handle, the NBA debuted its own Twitter and Instagram accounts dedicated to the sneakers that players wear on the court.

“We randomly saw the page, and it was verified,” Carter said. “I was tryna figure out who made it, and if it was an independent site like ours.”

That’s right — @WNBAKicks launched nine months before @NBAKicks. “A coincidence? I don’t know,” Janelle said. “The NBA has been around for so long. We started WNBA Kicks, then NBA Kicks pops up. It was like, ‘All right, well, somebody’s paying attention.’ ”

Yet, Janelle and Carter truly knew they had created something special when Lobo showed WNBA Kicks some love live on air during the 2018 WNBA All-Star Game.

“I’d been following them for a while and really enjoyed their content,” Lobo said. “In a production meeting, we said we were gonna come out of a commercial break and show some of the players’ shoes … so I knew I was gonna give them a shout. It feels to me that they’re the ones leading the charge in terms of exposing the fans to what the WNBA women are wearing. It seemed fair and only right that we let people know about them.”

So, heading into season two, what’s next for WNBA Kicks? The strategy seems to revolve around the platform’s newly launched website.

“Being a social media page is only going to get you so far,” Janelle said. “For us, the dot-com is what everyone respects. It was about wanting to have that next level. We wanted to be able to explain that we’re not just a fan page. We’re a full-fledged, running site.”

WNBA sneakerheads such as Young and Wheeler hope to see a stronger backing of the platform from the league.

“I don’t think the WNBA shines a light on WNBA Kicks as much as they should. I don’t think they give them enough credit,” Wheeler said. “WNBA Kicks knows what they’re doing. They’re up to date, they’re with the times. And they’re with us as players.”

WNBA Kicks has come a long way since Janelle paired those two words.

“To this day, I tell Bria, ‘Keep this going,’ ” Zellous said. “It’s really helping us … and it’s crazy because it’s kicks that are helping people get in tune with our league.”

Yet, if there’s one thing that the two co-founders of WNBA Kicks have never seemed to lose sight of, it’s that the platform is about much more than sneakers.

“Our whole purpose is to leave the league better than we found it,” Janelle said. “If we do our part, then we’re on the right track. How do we get more fans into seats? How do we get arenas full? If sneakers is the way, or at least a starting point, I think we can feel like we did something right.”

P.J. Tucker: ‘First debit card I ever had was because of eBay so I could buy shoes’ At NBA All-Star Weekend, the Rockets forward partnered with eBay for charity

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — For Houston Rockets forward P.J. Tucker, when it comes to shoes, patience is a virtue, and persistence is key. He’s the NBA’s biggest sneakerhead — and it’s not even close. His collection is in the thousands — plural — because he’s always in search of grails and gems in his size 14.

During the 2017-18 NBA season, Tucker spent $200,000 on sneakers, and wore 106 different pairs on the court in 99 games. Throughout the 2018 playoffs alone, he rotated between 22 pairs in 17 games. This season, his sneaker reign has continued in expansive fashion all the way up to the 2019 NBA All-Star break. This weekend, Tucker, along with other sneaker connoisseurs, such as international stylist Aleali May, YouTube/social media influencer Jacques Slade and customizer Kickstradomis, partnered with eBay to sell pairs of sneakers from his collection for charity. He donated a pair of exclusive “friends and family” Nike Air Fear of God 1s, a signed of his first player exclusive (PE) Nike Hyperdunk X, as well as one of his signed NBA jerseys and a basketball signed by the entire Rockets team.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the sneakers and memorabilia will benefit Project Fit, an organization that creates new opportunities for kids to be active, fit and live a healthy lifestyle. eBay also collaborated with Highsnobiety to create a pop-up sneaker gallery called “The Vault,” which featured shoes on display from a wide range of collectors. The Undefeated sat down at The Vault with Tucker, who discussed being the NBA’s “Sneaker King,” how he tracks down pairs, and that time Michael Jordan asked him, “Where’d you get those?”


How useful has eBay been on your sneaker collector journey?

I don’t know anybody that buys more shoes on eBay than me. My college teammate and one of my best friends in life, Royal Ivey, is a big shoe guy. At Texas, he used to always be on eBay. I had no idea what eBay was. He’d get packages. Shoes would just show up … I was like, ‘Oh, my God … ’ And back then, you could really find crazy gems on eBay. I actually went to the bank and got a debit card so I could get an eBay account and buy shoes. My first debit card … was because of eBay, so I could buy shoes.

What’s the best pair of shoes you’ve ever found on eBay?

Ooooohhhhh … now, that’s tough. It’d be something old. I like eBay because I can always find old gems. I spend hours and hours just scrolling on eBay. I found the original Stash Air Force 1 [released in 2003; only 1,000 pairs were made]. Deadstock, everything … with the case, all the bells and whistles. And to find a 13 in those is impossible. But I found them on eBay. That’s probably the most hype I’ve ever been about getting a shoe.

How often are you looking for shoes?

Every day … I’m looking for shoes right now. I just answered a text message from a guy that does a lot of my buying and selling … It never stops, man. It’s 24 hours a day. It’s part of my life. I just love sneakers. It’s just something that I do unconsciously every day.

Whose sneaker collection do you respect the most?

My favorite sneakerhead is DJ Clark Kent — without a doubt. Clark, his influence on sneakers, and how natural it is? From Day One, he’s been one of the avid sneaker guys. I love how he kind of does everything. He does every brand. And he knows the heat … He’s just one of those pioneers.

What’s the weirdest way you’ve ever procured a pair of sneakers?

Yooo … some of these collectors. … are superweird. I remember one guy, he didn’t want to do PayPal … He was like, ‘Only cash.’ And he didn’t want me to know who he was. He showed up with his wife and his daughter and stayed in the car. His wife and daughter got out and brought me the shoes. They made the transaction. He’s the most top-secret guy I’ve ever met in my life.

Do you go pick up shoes yourself?

Yeah … all the time. Even my eBay account is me.

Really … ?

Yeah, it’s pjtucker. People are like, ‘Is this really you, P.J.?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, it’s me, dog … I appreciate it.’

We’re in Charlotte for All-Star. It’s Michael Jordan’s city. In 2016, you shocked M.J. by breaking out a pair of super rare Shawn Marion Air Jordan 5 player exclusives.

Mannnn, it was about the timing of that … A friend of mine who had them — both of them, the black ones and the white ones — contacted me. It was right before we played the Hornets here. It was crazy. It was a no-brainer to be able to wear them then. He was like, ‘Yo, where’d you get those?’ I kind of just gave them the shrug, like, ‘I don’t know.’

P.J. Tucker (left) of the Phoenix Suns goes to the basket wearing a pair of rare Shawn Marion Air Jordan 5 PEs on March 1, 2016, at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina. Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

So how exactly did you get them?

A friend of a friend of a friend that knew a friend who had them. I had heard that Shawn didn’t even get them. He was trying to figure out his situation with Nike. To have those, deadstock right there, was crazy. It was a fun experience.

Is there a pair you’ve always wanted but never been able to find?

Yes … The Supreme SB Blazers. I got a bunch of them in a 13 but they fit like an 11.5. But I know there are some 14s out there. I’ve been trying to find them every chance I get. I love that sneaker. I’m still searching for those. … What else? Oh … I’m bugging. The friends and family Amsterdam Parra [it’s speculated that only 200-250 pairs were made]. Those joints are No. 1 on my list. I’ve been trying to get those forever. They’re impossible to find. I found a 12 deadstock. But way too small. I need a 14 in those. Maybe 13, but 14 for sure.

What do you like most about PEs?

Bigger than anything, it’s about the individuality of them. For me having my own now, it’s about picking those colorways surrounding how I’m feeling and what I wanted at the time.

Which players are on your Mount Rushmore of PEs?

Yo, that is a great question … I’m gonna mess you up, because it ain’t gonna be who you think. No. 1 is easy: Ray Allen. No. 2, Derek Anderson. No. 3 … Chris Paul … And then Kobe. There’s nothing like Kobe PEs.

How special is collecting sneakers to you?

It’s bigger than just sneakers. As a kid, I just always worked hard to be able to make my mom happy so she would buy me shoes. It was so much more than the actual shoes. It taught me a lot, too, because I had to take care of my shoes. I wore shoes, took them off and cleaned them. So the next time when I put them on, I was already ready to go. Because I knew I wasn’t getting another pair … you know what I’m saying? Shoes taught me how to be a man, in a way. Growing up, and being an adult, you gotta take care of your stuff.

Do you like being the ‘Sneaker King’ of the NBA?

That’s not something I talk about or push … Because when you look over the years, I wore exclusive PEs when I was in Phoenix … way more than now. I was wearing crazy PEs, and nobody ever knew. Sole Collector would probably post something every once in a while, but not many people knew. It’s just something, my whole life, I’ve always done. Sneaker King? Ahhh, whatever. It’s cool. I just do me, you know?

Stay tuned for another Q&A from The Vault with international stylist Aleali May on her two Air Jordan collaborations, her relationship with Maya Moore and the importance of female sneakerheads.

The complete — and insane — list of P.J. Tucker’s 2018 NBA playoff sneakers All 22 pairs — from Cactus Jack Jordans, to custom OFF-Whites, and a trio of Oregon PEs — it’s all here

His reign is already solidified and virtually unchallenged. P.J. Tucker is the NBA’s sneaker king. He has shoes in his collection that hypebeasts can’t even cop, and he actually wears pairs that the biggest sneakerheads in the world wouldn’t even dare to unbox. “With playing basketball and sneakers, there’s no line,” Tucker told Joe La Puma on Complex’s Sneaker Shopping in early March. “If I have them, I’ll play in them.” And, on the huge stage of the NBA playoffs, Tucker didn’t hold back. In Houston’s 17 games during the 2018 postseason, Tucker broke out 22 different pairs of size 14s, while averaging 8.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and shooting 46.7 percent from 3-point range. He wore Jordans, LeBrons, Kobes, KDs, Kyries — you name it. He found sneakers that were only meant to be sported by high school players, and represented on his feet colleges the former University of Texas student never attended. This is the complete list of every shoe P.J. Tucker wore in every Rockets game during the 2018 playoffs.


WESTERn CONFERENCE Quarterfinals vs. MINnesota Timberwolves

Game 1, April 15: Nike LEbron Low “4 Horseman” & Air JOrdan 32 “Rossa Corsa”

The sneakers of P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets during the first half of Game 1 against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round of the 2018 NBA playoffs on April 15 at the Toyota Center in Houston.

Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

The sneakers of P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets during the second half of Game 1 against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round of the 2018 NBA playoffs on April 15 at the Toyota Center in Houston.

Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

Tucker walked through the tunnel of the Toyota Center before the Rockets’ postseason opener with a pair of “Flu Game” Air Jordan 12s in his left hand. He then warmed up in a pair of “Stealth” Air Jordan 3s. Come game time, he ran up and down the hardwood in two more pairs of kicks: the “4 Horseman” Nike LeBron 3 Lows during the first half and the “Rossa Corsa” Air Jordan 32s during the second half. What a way to start off the playoffs — with four different sneakers.

Game 2, April 18: Air Jordan 4 “Cactus Jack,” Air Jordan 13 “Playoffs”

The sneakers of P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets during the first half of Game 2 against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round of the 2018 NBA playoffs on April 18 at the Toyota Center in Houston.

Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

The sneakers of P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets during the second half of Game 2 against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round of the 2018 NBA playoffs on April 18 at the Toyota Center in Houston.

Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

Sitting courtside during Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals, rapper and Rockets superfan Travis Scott, a native of Houston, donned a pair of his own signature shoes, the “Cactus Jack” Air Jordan 4s. On the court, Tucker wore them too. It’s worth noting: The shoes, inspired by the colors of the city’s former NFL franchise, the Houston Oilers, haven’t officially dropped yet — and won’t until late June. But Trav and Tucker debuted the heat, which the Rockets forward wore only briefly. In the second half against Minnesota, he played in a pair of “Playoffs” Air Jordan 13s.

Game 3, April 21: Custom Air Jordan 11 “ACES,” NikE Air Maestro II “Trifecta”

The sneakers of P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets during the first half of Game 3 against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round of the 2018 NBA playoffs on April 21 at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

The sneakers of P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets during the second half of Game 3 against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round of the 2018 NBA playoffs on April 21 at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

It took only three games for Tucker to break out some custom kicks: a pair of white Air Jordan 11s dubbed the “Aces.” On the heel of the shoes, a red spade replaces the traditional Jumpman logo, and “PJ4” replaces Michael Jordan’s jersey number in the thinly lined, trademark script. Tucker switched his shoes in the locker room at halftime of the road Game 3. This time it was to a pair of “Trifecta” Air Maestro 2s (worn by Scottie Pippen in a triple-double performance in the 1993 NBA Finals) from Nike’s “Art of a Champion” collection.

Game 4, April 23: Nike LeBron 12 Low

The sneakers of P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets during Game 4 against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round of the 2018 NBA playoffs on April 23 at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

In Game 4 against Minnesota, for the first time in the playoffs, Tucker wore only one pair of shoes: white, gray and red Nike LeBron 12 Lows. Perhaps he left his second-half sneaks in his hotel room. Or maybe he just got tired of spoiling us with a footwear fashion show.

Game 5, April 25: AIr Jordan 32 “JBC,” Air Jordan 10 “Dark shadow”

The sneakers of P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets during the first half of Game 5 against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round of the 2018 NBA playoffs on April 25 at the Toyota Center in Houston.

Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

The sneakers of P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets during the second half of Game 5 against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round of the 2018 NBA playoffs on April 25 at the Toyota Center in Houston.

Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

On April 8, Michael Jordan’s billion-dollar company hosted its annual showcase for the nation’s top high school prospects. While competing in the Jordan Brand Classic, young stars wore pairs of player-exclusive (PE) Air Jordan 32s, embossed with “JBC 2018” logos on the midsole and tongue. Tucker is 33 — a decade and a half removed from his prep days at William G. Enloe High in Raleigh, North Carolina. But, somehow, he landed all five pairs of shoes that every JBC player received, including the PE 32s, which he rocked a few weeks after the high school all-star game in a closeout Game 5 win over the Timberwolves. For the second half, he swapped out the 32s for a pair of “Dark Shadow” Air Jordan 10s, which were released on April 20.

Western Conference Semifinals vs. Utah Jazz

Game 1, April 29: Nike Kyrie 1 “WArHAWK”

The sneakers of P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Utah Jazz during the 2018 NBA playoffs on April 29 at the Toyota Center in Houston.

Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

Before Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals between the Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz, a photo surfaced of Tucker sitting in his team’s dressing room as he sifted through a huge pile of sneakers and boxes that flowed out of his locker. For the series opener, he decided to throw it back with a pair of “Warhawk” Nike Kyrie 1s, which are inspired by the World War II-era Curtiss P-40 fighter aircraft. The shoes were released in 2015 and were given exclusively to high school and college players who participated in the Nike Basketball Academy in the Barker Hangar at Santa Monica, California’s airport. But of course Tucker got his hands on a pair — because the shoe term “limited edition” means absolutely nothing to him.

Game 2, May 2: Air Jordan 5 “OREGOn” PE, Air Jordan 10 “University REd”

The sneakers of P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets during the first half of Game 2 against the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference semifinals of the 2018 NBA playoffs on May 2 at the Toyota Center in Houston.

Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets and Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz wrestle for a rebound during Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals in the 2018 NBA playoffs on May 2 at the Toyota Center in Houston.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The University of Oregon — located about two hours south of Nike’s headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon — is the land of milk and honey when it comes to PEs. Tucker must have a reliable plug on campus, as he’s no stranger to whipping out pairs of shoes that only the university’s athletes, past and present, should have. In Game 2 against the Jazz, he wore a pair of “insanely rare” PE “Oregon” Air Jordan 5s, but only for the first two quarters. In the second half, he sported the “University Red” Air Jordan 10s, a collaboration between the Jordan Brand and famed NBA tattoo artist Steve Wiebe that dropped exclusively at House of Hoops in Harlem, New York, in December 2017. Two pairs of superuncommon shoes in one game. All in a day’s work for Tucker.

Game 3, May 4: Nike Kyrie 4 “Chinese New year”

The sneakers of P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Utah Jazz on May 4 at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, kicked off this year on Feb. 16 and lasted through March 2. But Tucker was still celebrating the Year of the Dog in early May, when he showed off the “Chinese New Year” Nike Kyrie 4s in Salt Lake City for Houston’s first road game of the Western Conference semis. Tucker is a mixologist with the colors of his on-court shoes, often choosing to turn heads instead of matching his uniform. But these kicks, which feature a beautiful red, black and gold floral design on the quarter panel of each shoe, perfectly complement Rockets team colors. Well done, P.J. Well done.

Game 4, May 6: Nike Kd 6 Supreme “D.C. Preheat”

The sneakers of P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Utah Jazz on May 6 at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

From the conservative “CNY” Kyrie 4s in Game 3 to the vibrant “D.C. Preheat” Nike KD 6 Supremes in Game 4. Tucker had to go deep in his closet for this pair of Kevin Durant signatures, which first hit the streets in 2013. More proof that his sneaker versatility is crazy.

Game 5, May 8: Nike LeBron 8

The sneakers of P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets during Game 5 against the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference semifinals on May 8 at the Toyota Center in Houston.

Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

Why not pay homage to the most dominant player of this year’s playoffs: LeBron Raymone James? With a pair of vintage red-and-black Nike LeBron 8s (which originally released in October 2010), that’s exactly what Tucker did when he and the Rockets sent Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz packing with a Game 5 win that advanced Houston to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2015.

Western Conference Finals vs. Golden State Warriors

Game 1, May 14: Nike Zoom Kobe 3 “Westchester” PE

The sneakers of P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets during Game 1 against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA’s Western Conference finals on May 14 at the Toyota Center in Houston.

Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

In 2008, players on the basketball team at Los Angeles’ Westchester High received exclusive red, black and white Nike Kobe 3s. They were personalized for the school, with each shoe’s tongue featuring a “W.” So how did Tucker, who went to high school in North Carolina from 1999-2000, find a pair of these unique Kobes? Perhaps Rockets forward Trevor Ariza, a Westchester graduate, hooked his teammate up. But with Tucker, who really knows? The “Westchester” 3s he wore in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against the Warriors might just be one of the original pairs. That’s how deep his shoe connections run.

Game 2, May 16: Nike LeBron 15 “Owwhio State” PE

The sneakers of P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets during Game 2 against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals on May 16 at the Toyota Center in Houston.

Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

Tucker is a Longhorn at heart. But in Game 2 vs. Golden State, he was a Buckeye, repping THE Ohio State University in a pair of all-red, player-exclusive Nike LeBron 15s. They were presented to the OSU basketball team last fall as part of James’ everlasting dedication to the school he would’ve attended had he gone to college. Also, don’t forget: We’ve seen Tucker in another colorway of Ohio State LeBron 15 PEs. The first pair, primarily in white, was apparently just the warm-up.

Game 3, May 20: Nike Kyrie 4 “Yellow Lobster”

The sneakers of P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets during Game 3 against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals on May 20 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

In 2009, only 36 pairs of the “Yellow Lobster” Nike SB Dunk Lows were made. Nearly a decade later, Nike paid tribute to the iconic skateboarding sneaker with a bigger, yet still limited, release of the “Yellow Lobster” Kyrie 4s. Before lacing up the kicks in Game 3 against the Warriors, Tucker arrived to Oracle Arena in a magenta suit. He was really in his bag with his style choices that night.

Game 4, May 22: Custom Off-White Nike REact Hyperdunk

The sneakers of P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets during Game 4 against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals on May 22 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Between Games 1 and 2 of the Western Conference finals, Tucker took to Instagram, where he posted a photo of one-of-a-kind OFF-White Nike React Hyperdunks — the work of sneaker craftsman Dominic Chambrone, aka The Shoe Surgeon. Tucker teased the custom kicks in warm-ups, but they didn’t grace the court until Game 4. To really appreciate the collaboration between Tucker and Chambrone, you have to remember what a normal pair of the OFF-WHITE Hyperdunks look like. Moral of the story: They started out as white and ended up an intoxicating red. A true masterpiece.

Game 5, May 24: Nike LeBron 15 “OREGON” PE (Black)

The sneakers of P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets during Game 5 against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals on May 22 at the Toyota Center in Houston.

Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

From afar, Tucker’s Game 5 shoes appeared to be a simple pair of black LeBron 15s. Yet, up close you’ll notice the subtle “O” on the heel tab, which signifies one thing: Oregon. Somebody in the school’s equipment department must really love Tucker.

Game 6, May 26: Nike Lebron 15 “Oregon” pe (Green)

The sneakers of P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets during Game 6 against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals on May 26 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.

Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

In the words of the one and only DJ Khaled, “Another one!” — Tucker’s third pair of Oregon player exclusives in the playoffs. Peep the yellow duck wings design on the midsole of these green beauties. The university might as well hire him to teach “PEs 101.” He’s as well-versed as they come on the topic.

Game 7, May 28: Nike Kobe 4 “Del Sol”

The sneakers of P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets during Game 7 against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals of the 2018 NBA playoffs on May 28 at the Toyota Center in Houston.

Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

Tucker entered Houston’s home arena before a decisive Game 7 vs. Golden State on Memorial Day carrying a pair of “Grinch” Nike Kobe 6s (the best Christmas Day sneakers in NBA history — and don’t even think about @ing us). But when he and the Rockets stepped foot on the court, with a trip to the 2018 NBA Finals on the line, Tucker had pulled an okey-doke. Instead of the Grinches, he wore “Del Sol” Nike Kobe 4s. Yet he couldn’t quite channel his inner Black Mamba, as the Warriors closed out the 2017-18 season for the Rockets. There’s little doubt, however, that Tucker had the freshest shoes of the night — and of the entire playoffs.