No sponsorship agreement? No problem. Spencer Dinwiddie has created his own brand of sneakers

Spencer Dinwiddie doesn’t look like a superhero, at least not on that January morning in Houston, but he just played like one.

The day before, Dinwiddie, a 25-year-old with long arms and beard from Woodland Hills, scored 11 points for the Brooklyn Nets in the final 90 seconds of the fourth quarter in what would be an overtime victory over the Houston Rockets. He finished with 33 points, the third most significant game of his professional career.

In addition to the victory and heroism late in the game, he also made a bit of NBA history. As far as is known, he became the first NBA star to score points – nonetheless 33 of them – with Beyoncé’s face painted on his sneakers.

The shoes are part of an unprecedented plan for an NBA player.

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Dinwiddie, ignored by big sneaker companies early in his professional career, has launched a self-endorsed brand, K8iros (pronounced “Kyros”) and debuted with his shoes this season. And every time he plays this season, he’ll be wearing a unique custom shoe designed by the Los Angeles artist. Troy “Kickasso” Cole.

Brooklyn Nets Spencer Dinwiddie.

(Mike Stobe / Getty Images)

“Iron Man is my favorite superhero,” Dinwiddie told The Times. “For me, it was about creating my Iron Man armor.”

The plan started with the shoes. A second-round pick from Detroit, Dinwiddie struggled to find a home in the NBA as he returned from a knee injury that cut short his career at the University of Colorado. (He preferred Boulder to Harvard.)

The Pistons had no minutes left for him and traded him in Chicago for a great Australian man who has never played another NBA minute. The Bulls cut Dinwiddie off at training camp, pushing him into the NBA minor leagues before he finally landed in Brooklyn.

There, injuries and a slow rebuild allowed Dinwiddie to develop into a good young player. He was rewarded in December with a three-year, $ 34 million contract.

Artist Troy

Artist Troy “Kickasso” Cole in front of a mural by artist Jonathan Cirlin, aka Espy Dpt Znc, in his studio, Kickasso Kustoms, in downtown Los Angeles.

(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

As he settled into a permanent role in the NBA, Dinwiddie began to play with the idea of ​​going out on his own for a shoe contract. He had no deposit.

“There could be additional pairs of Kobe 13s at the gym. These were the ones I would play in, ”he said.

He has partnered up with the investment / production company Project DREAM (Disrupt Reality Every Available Moment), which promotes itself as a way to ‘launch your own self-endorsed brand and make your vision a reality’.

As he prepared to launch his own brand, Dinwiddie meticulously studied materials, foams and stitch patterns. He immersed himself head first into the technological aspect of the shoe and visited production factories in China.

“I got carried away on this,” he said.

It was a bit of fate. A lousy artist himself, Dinwiddie could sketch out some of his favorite anime characters. And he could draw shoes. Growing up in Woodland Hills, that’s what he did.

Spencer Dinwiddie's sneakers pay homage to Rosa Parks during a Brooklyn Nets game against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on October 17.

Spencer Dinwiddie’s sneakers pay homage to Rosa Parks during a Brooklyn Nets game against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on October 17.

(Gregory Shamus / Getty Images)

“You feel good when you know you have something cool, something special.”

Spencer dinwiddie

With his vision in hand, he was a bit lucky. Just when the shoe specs were ready, the NBA removed color restrictions on sneakers this season, opening the door to more creativity and the chance to make NBA sneaker history.

Dinwiddie and his friends contacted Cole. They gave him a list of 100 subjects that represent Dinwiddie in one way or another and told him to get down to business.

“Here is the date. Here is the city. Here is the muse. Go ahead, ”he told Kickasso, going hands-off at this point in the process.

“Even though it’s personal to me,” Dinwiddie said, “I didn’t want him to feel like he was in a cage.”

Cole was thrilled to get 82 sets of webs.

“I knew he was a creative guy,” Cole said in an email. “And we would be able to exchange ideas, and I was also excited about freedom as an artist for an entire NBA season. I thought the list was well thought out and planned with historical figures and fun topics. I’m always drawn to colorful stuff, so I was excited about all the comic book characters and manga inspiration.

Dinwiddie wore shoes that honored Rosa Parks, Colin Kaepernick, Stan Lee, Frederick Douglass, the anime, Bruce Lee and former President Barack Obama. After each match, the shoes worn by the game are available for purchase through an auction, a portion of the proceeds of which is donated to charity.

When the Nets are on the road, Dinwiddie tries to match his shoes with the city he’s playing in. In Minnesota, he honored Prince. In Miami, it was Dwyane Wade. In Oklahoma City, the shoes were inspired by a deadly race riot in Tulsa in 1921.

“I love them and I’m proud of them all in different ways,” Cole said. “My favorite so far would be the Chucky pair (from the movie ‘Child’s Play’) for Halloween.”

The results got the NBA sneakerheads talking. Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell has said he plans to pursue his own shoe line after seeing what Dinwiddie has been up to this season.

Spencer Dinwiddie's sneakers pay homage to Nelson Mandela during the Brooklyn Nets' game against the Utah Jazz at Barclays Center in New York City on November 28.

Spencer Dinwiddie’s sneakers pay homage to Nelson Mandela during the Brooklyn Nets’ game against the Utah Jazz at Barclays Center in New York City on November 28.

(Al Bello / Getty Images)

There are non-personalized shoes available for sale. Dinwiddie has worn them a few times because he wants to market his brand and show the shoes that people can buy that are not personalized. However, the real joy for him comes from walking the field in something original, watching his peers and seeing how they react. (On the brand’s website, the shoes, which come in men’s sizes, are listed at $ 150 and $ 160.)

“When I started doing this it became a lot more about artistic expression, the freedom of it, than anything else,” Dinwiddie said. “When you venture out on your own, you know you can make more money, you can make less. We’ll have to see. This is the first time that something like this.

“The old adage is: look good, feel good, play well,” he said. “You feel good when you know you have something good, something special. This year, in having my shoe, there was a different anticipation, looking to see how my peers would receive it. It was different. But there is a sense of pride in it. It’s funny.”

dan.woike@latimes.com


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