Sneaker culture and the NBA fit together like a, well, sneaker to a foot.
The Dallas Mavericks recently hosted the 2nd annual Sneakeasy experience, and sneakerheads —mostly of the Mavericks fans variety— showed up in droves. The Sneakeasy experience, an event still in its infancy, featured sneakers, obviously, local businesses that cater to the sneaker culture, and also featured a new addition to this growing event: a sneaker chat panel.
“This is the second year we’ve put this event together, and the response from sneakerhead Mavs fans has been phenomenal”, Collin Kim, Dallas Mavericks Corporate Communications Manager, said.
As Kim spoke to MavsMoneyball, this sentiment was punctuated with what was happening directly behind us. A very long line of sneakerheads waiting patiently to get into the Michelob ULTRA Club in the main concourse.
The experience was divided into two parts: a pre-game walk-through event where sneakerheads had an opportunity to browse and visit with several sneaker culture-adjacent shops Centre, Nollege, and Sneaker Politics. Attendees were also treated to a unique opportunity to let their eyes feast on a curated Sneaker Museum, a wall of curated rare sneakers from milestone NBA games. The diamond in the center of this curated collection was undoubtedly game worn sneakers belonging to future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki.
Accenting the various sneakers and sneaker culture apparel available, the Experience also featured several art pieces, created by Dallas artists, that were available for purchase.
One of the highlights of this pre-game Experience happened outside at the entrance to the event space. A 360 automatic spinning photo platform was set up with Mavs media team members ready to help sneakerheads do what every sneakerhead loves to do: show off their kicks. Undoubtedly, this was a highlight of the Sneakeasy event for a lot of the engaged participants.
The second part of the Sneakeasy Experience was the postgame exclusive sneaker chat panel, available for the first 100 to check in to the Experience. The panel, moderated by George Kiel, former Editor-in-Chief of Nice Kicks, featured some industry stalwarts as well as some newcomers.
- Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson, coming off a quiet but efficient 9-point, 3 rebound, and 2 assist win over the Portland Trailblazers.
- Dallas Mavericks Assistant General Manager Michael Finley, one of the original Jordan Brand athletes.
- Dallas Mavericks General Manager Nico Harrison, with over two decades of experience at Nike.
- DJ Poizon Ivy, Mavericks DJ and a certified sneakerhead.
- Channing Beumer, founder of CNK Daily, a Dallas-based sneaker releases, style insights, and sneaker education site with a focus on women.
Moderator Kiel had preselected discussion topics and questions for specific panel members with some great insight coming from Nico Harrison from his years of experience with Nike. Michael Finley talked about his experiences as an OG Jordan Brand athlete.
One of the funniest moments came from Jalen Brunson. Asked what one of his earliest memories of being a sneakerhead was, Brunson brought the house down with his answer.
“Remember how Nike used to have the Nike ID where you could customize shoes? Well I thought this meant you had to identify shoes so I spent a lot of time identifying and calling out different sneakers!”
Responding to a question from the moderator about their respective favorite sneakers, Brunson was quick to note his affection for the electric lime green colored Nike Zoom Kobe 6 Proto, commonly referred to as the “Grinches”. Brunson has donned these sneakers for virtually every game this season.
Ever the consummate company man, Michael Finley’s response elicited a round of hollering from the attentive crowd. “Well the Luka (Jordan) 1s are my current favorite’, Finley said with a sly smile.
While the men brought their insight and experiences around sneaker culture tied in to the NBA, arguably the best part of this sneaker chat panel was when the two women on the panel made some great points from their respective perspectives as women sneakerheads.
DJ Poizon Ivy, talking about the current state of sneaker culture, made it a point to state that women can and should be an integral part of the culture. For the most part, the sneaker giants have started listening to this point. Adidas has their partnership with Beyonce, and Nike has been on forefront of signing and highlighting women athletes with front of the line ad spots.
CNK Daily founder Channing Beumer pointed out that while the sneaker culture has seen a lot of negativity in recent years (bots, anyone?), the culture is also creating jobs that simply weren’t around even 5 years ago. For an economy that’s trying to rebound, this is a salient and very relevant point.
The Mavericks have a home run with the annual Sneakeasy Experience. In only its second year, club reps were quick to point out just how amazed they were with the huge turnout and response from fans.
The Experience provides sneakerhead fans with a venue to talk sneakers, support local businesses and local artists, and educate themselves about aspects of the culture they may not have previously known about.
Above all, this event gave fans who share an affinity for sneaker culture an opportunity to connect. In a world still pushing the cobwebs away after a couple of years of extreme isolation, this is a most welcome thing.