5 Things You Need to Know About Chris Paul’s New Sneaker

  • Jordan CP3.VIII
    1. The CP3 line gets better every year

    There’s no question Paul is quite fond of his first signature sneaker — 2008’s Jordan CP3.1 — for nostalgia’s sake, but he adds, “I’m trying to figure out how I even played a game in it.” Over seven subsequent models, the CP3 has morphed into a lighter and stronger shoe, honed over years of trial and error and benefiting from the latest in sneaker technology.

    The CP3.VIII, which features lightweight podulite cushioning, is more minimalist than its predecessors and built to break in fast. It possesses a lower profile for enhanced court feel; Paul cited this element as one he requested in order to better help his body deal with the rigors of the rough-and-tumble NBA season. The sneaker boasts the Flight Web lockdown system the Air Jordan XX9 made famous, while forefoot Zoom Air and a herringbone traction pattern in the heel offer explosiveness and precision.

    This isn’t to say Paul doesn’t value aesthetics.

    “When you’re designing a shoe, obviously you want a shoe to look good,” CP3 said. “When you look at it, it’s basically like having curb appeal, right? If you buy a house, you want your house to look good.

    “At the same time, you want it to perform for you.”

    The CP3.VIII is a perfect example that you can have the steak — and a little sizzle too.

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  • Jordan CP3.VIII
    2. The CP3.VIII isn’t afraid to get a little flashy

    A self-professed NIKEiD addict, Paul often eliminates the middleman and designs his own colorways to wear on court. After all, what better way to make sure you have exactly what you want?

    And what CP3 generally wants is something that’s going to pop.

    “I’m usually not that crazy about the all-black pair that usually comes out, because I like a little more energy in the shoes,” Paul said. “One thing I’ve learned is that shoes look totally different when you color them up — when you can highlight this, lowlight that, I think that’s the (most fun) part is being able to change the colors of the shoestrings.”

    A lot of the retail colorways will capture that spirit, with bright combinations of hues you might rather expect to see on a race car, matching his high-octane game and ensuring that CP3 will be the center of attention long before his first no-look pass of the night.

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  • Air Jordan XI
    3. The CP3.VIII is inspired by the classics

    As you might expect from a true sneaker aficionado, Paul has a solid list of Air Jordans that he favors, and he has predictably excellent taste.

    “I love the XI and I love the IV,” Paul said. “My favorite, the one I have more than anything, is the I’s. … I love the I’s. I wear them with jeans, I wear them with suits, all day everyday. Nobody has — maybe M.J. — but possibly nobody has more 1’s than me.”

    When asked how many he has, Paul laughs.

    “… More than anybody else.”

    All those years of collecting has paid off in more ways than one. Paul has translated his affinity for classic Air Jordans into his own signature sneaker in unique ways, specifically citing the different textures and fabrics his sneaker utilizes as a direct influence from early Air Jordans. Not to mention, he knows when — and when not — to release the CP3.

    “It’s funny, whenever we talk about when my shoes are going to launch, I was like, ‘Don’t drop no XI’s right around my shoe, because you can’t win,’” Paul said with a laugh. “No, it’s the truth! You can’t win.”

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  • Chris Paul
    4. The CP3.VIII gives Paul a physical -- and mental -- edge

    Michael Jordan once told Paul how he would wear his craziest pair of new Air Jordans during the playoffs, in the hopes that his opponents might find themselves checking out his shoes, taking their focus off the game for even a split second. That story stuck with CP3.

    Paul looks at his sneakers as sort of a secret weapon, bred to supplement his skills and make him that much more lethal. For example? The inside of the forefoot has a specific traction added to enhance one particular move, which helps him in more ways than one.

    “When I go forward, one of my favorite moves is to stop, and pull back into a crossover,” Paul said. “I usually come up on my right toe, like on the inside of my toe. And I may just be tricking myself, but I feel like nine times out of 10, I’m always going to get enough separation to get away from my defender because … his shoe’s not made for him.”

    Paul pauses, then laughs.

    “Depending on who it is. And I feel like he’s going to keep sliding just enough for me to get my shot off.”

    Not only does the CP3.VIII perfectly complement his favorite move, but it gives him that extra bit of confidence. That might just make an already great player just the slightest bit better.

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  • Chris Paul
    5. The CP3.VIII means the world to Chris Paul

    Michael Jordan put his thumbprint inside the tongue of the Air Jordan XX3, so that everyone who laces them up touches it for just a second. Influenced by this, Chris Paul views his sneakers as a living history — and impressively, he can recount every last detail from memory, from his first sneaker to his last.

    His first CP3 sneaker featured an initialed tribute to his late Wake Forest coach, Skip Prosser. His second had the names of his parents and brother grafittied onto it. The third had little family crests, his fifth had dots representing his wedding date and the VII’s had a VIN number of sorts representing his kids’ birthdays. A common theme throughout is a Chevron-esque logo to pay tribute to his late grandfather, whom he famously honored with a 61-point game in high school.

    When you wear Paul’s sneakers, you’re helping to tell his story, while writing your own. And every time he laces up his sneakers, it makes him think of his family, giving him a quick pregame lift.

    “I wish it made every shot go in,” Paul said, “but it doesn’t work that way.”

    But it might make him feel like every shot is going to go in. And that’s about as good as it gets.

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  • Jordan CP3.VIII
  • Jordan CP3.VIII
  • Air Jordan XI
  • Chris Paul
  • Chris Paul

During the two years it takes him to develop a new Air Jordan, Tinker Hatfield’s job doesn’t end when he leaves the office — Michael Jordan makes sure of that. At all hours of the night, Jordan calls the designer extraordinaire at home to make suggestions and tweaks.

“He’s not my wife,” Hatfield said with a laugh at the introduction for the Air Jordan XX9 back in April. “But it’s close.”

Among the many ways Jordan Brand progeny Chris Paul has followed in his idol’s footsteps is his attention to detail when it comes to his signature shoe. At August’s launch event for the new CP3.VIII, Paul waxed poetic for nearly a half hour about his passion for sneakers, and it was perfectly obvious he takes great pains to ensure that anything that bears his logo lives up to his high standards of quality and individuality.

Paul and designer Justin Taylor have presided over the evolution of his CP3 line, resulting in a sneaker perfectly designed for a quick-cutting point guard like Paul — light, yet supportive. And it’s obviously cliched, but if it’s good enough for the best point guard in the NBA, it’s more than good enough for you.

“When you get the opportunity to sit down with a shoe designer, you realize how hard it is, because everyone has their favorite shoes,” Paul said at the launch event. “But if you come out with your own shoe, you can’t just make it look like the Jordan III. You can’t just make it look like the Jordan XI.

“So it’s a really tough process to make it your own, and to make a dream.”

To celebrate the release of the CP3.VIII at Champs Sports tomorrow, here are 5 Things You Need to Know About Chris Paul’s New Sneaker.

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