New year, new London experience! Once again, the NBA hosted their Global Game in London and we were invited to join this special occasion. As if the clash of the Washington Wizards and New York Knicks wouldn’t be enough of a reason to fly to London, Nike sent us over to witness a unique innovation for the basketball world. So, you can tell that we were ready to go and ambitious to see what will happen.
Time flew by as we travelled from Munich to London, ubered to our hotel and headed directly to Nike Town for the first highlight of our stay in the UK: the presentation of the all new and self-lacing Nike Adapt BB with insights from one of the European shooting stars in the league Frank Ntilikina! Let‘s see what “the future of the game” holds.
First up was Adam Wassinger, the head of development for the Nike Adapt BB. Adam gave us a little breakdown on the sneakers, the technology and the process of creating them.
The Nike Adapt BB is the first performance basketball shoe of its kind. It contains the Nike power lacing system which was first introduced with the Nike Hyperadapt in 2017 (and running on screens before that since “Back to the Future”). Obviously, this lacing system powered by the fit adapt system is the core and key-innovation of the whole shoe allowing it to create a unique and strong fit for every athlete.
This strong fit and endurance is a crucial factor as basketball sneakers, in comparison to any other sport sneakers, have to withstand the highest forces, impacts and sudden stops. Those on-court threats for every sneaker are tackled with durable flyknit upper, a Cushlon midsole, a rubber outsole and two buttons to change the game. The front button (closer to the toes) tightens up the shoe while the back button (closer to the heel) loosens the power laces up again. You can speed lace if you hold the button or slightly adjust by briefly pressing the button. If you press both buttons for a bit the buttons start blinking and your profile is set and saved by the fit adapt system. This means the same fit every single day, practice and game.
Another interesting detail of the Nike Adapt BB is that a whole new set of testing-standards were developed beforehand to make sure that the lacing system holds up to every player – no matter if he is an athletic beast like LeBron James, a pure powerhouse like Shaq, or a run-and-gun maestro with quick handles like Steph Curry. In fact, the Nike Adapt BB is the most tested Nike shoe and product to this date!
After the technology and innovation loaded Adapt BB intro from Adam it was time to let a true athlete take the stage. Frank Ntilikina obviously was happy to be in London, back in Europe, and to be part of the Nike Adapt campaign. He received a warm welcome of the crowd (around 25 selected members of the media plus some Nike officials and Nike Town London employees) waiting for him and to hear his insights on the potential future of basketball footwear. But before we got to the sneaker talk the main topic was Frank’s perception on the different styles of European and US basketball and that there is no right or wrong way for young and talented athletes in either going to college or sticking to the European league to develop amongst professionals from the start. There are pros and cons for every way. Find your route while always believing in yourself, your talent and your potential. In addition, Frank always had faith that he can share the court with the best athletes just like his role model LeBron James and now he took center stage playing for the New York Knicks – so better start believing kids!
But enough of the motivational talk now, it’s time to talk about the shoes! Frank took us to the first time he ever saw the shoes and tried them on. It was a crazy experience to feel the tightness but comfort of the shoe for the first time, he says. He also added that testing the shoes with the other athletes (Jayson Tatum, Luka Doncic, De’Aron Fox, and Kyle Kuzma just to name a few) was pure fun and that Nike did a great job with the innovation and the whole process of introducing the shoes to the players. The shoes give every athlete the chance to have a custom fit pair of shoes without worrying about too loose areas or too tight pressure points in the sneakers. “These shoes are the best kicks I ever hooped in” he says. Now THAT’s a statement right there!
After the open talk with us and the media folks we got the chance for a quick 1on1 talk with Frank – of course we took this chance to get some more insights on his NBA progress. It is Frank’s second season and he says that he fells more accustomed now to the NBA routines of traveling, practicing and also resting in different gyms and hotels and that he has a better understanding now of what it takes to make it through a 82-game packed NBA season. In addition, patience is a key feature he had to learn and still has to further develop next to other things to become the best player he can be. That’s what we wished him too at the end of our day. Make your way young fella!
Day 2. Game Time. Not yet for the NBA pros, but for us and our local friends from the London City Royals. The first half of the day we and Nike’s own Adam (who turned out to be a down to the bones Wizards fan and NBA nerd through and through – huge shout out for that) spent at the London City Royals’ Crystal Palace to see the Nike Adapt BB in action and to get some unique on-court shots with some British flair on them.
After that it was my turn to put on the Adapt BBs and wear test them myself – nowhere else but the grand O2 on the center-court the pros would hoop on 24-hours later. What a shoe! What an experience! What a feeling!
The full wear test of the Nike Adapt BB will be available on our blog soon. Stay tuned!
After little sleep (because of the dreams I had of hooping in front of a fully packed O2 and sinking the game-winning buzzer beater) and another day in the beautiful city of London it was about that time – Game time that is. You could tell and feel that something was going on in London that day and you could spot Knicks and Wizards jerseys and fan gear all over London.
After arriving at the O2 and grabbing a quick cold one it was time to watch the game. And as a player how could you not be ready after those banging intro videos and the American national anthem of course?! Well that was a question I had to ask myself over and over again as the first couple of minutes (and quarters) of NBA basketball where far away of the flashy and entertaining NBA action everyone – including me – in the O2 was hoping for. You could tell that the crowd initially was a bit disappointed and was wishing for more highlight-reel NBA Basketball.
Finally, in the fourth, Bradley Beal and the Wizards heard our wishes and put some resistance to the so far leading Knicks. Looking back at the game I see the no-look pass from Brown Jr. to a cutting Decker for the easy Dunk as the initiator of the catch up. After that slick pass Beal and Porter Jr. made some crucial threes while the New York Knicks went on a drought for 3:30 minutes. The crowd went crazy over those made threes and the Wizards had their first lead since the first quarter with four minutes left to play. After that it was a back-and-forth battle and came down to the final play with 3.3 seconds left on the clock.
The Wizards’ Thomas Bryant went for the lay-up which was tipped by the Knicks’ Trier. Blocked shot? Goal tending? A Wizards’ comeback victory? The Knicks’ burdensome win? After a lengthy replay review it became clear that the call by the refs would be goal-tending and that the Wizards could start celebrating in London. The Knicks couldn’t do much with the 0.4 seconds left and the game was over. Unfortunate for the Knicks to let the game slip out of their hands but very fortunate for the Wizards and every viewer and NBA fan in the O2.
Although the game was over we took it into overtime at the after-show party because as it always was: love is for after the game.