How Damian Lillard Will Make His Signature Sneaker a Powerhouse

  • Damian Lillard adidas rapping

    adidas

    Swagger

    Anyone with a pulse knows about Lillard’s love of rapping and his #4BarFridays movement on social media. He spit a freestyle when he unveiled his new signature sneaker. He spit a hot take on Instagram to preview his new shoe, rhyming about what it meant to him and how he grew up dreaming of having one. He even went on national television and dropped some bars with Conan O’Brien and co-host Andy Richter. At this point, it’s a great way for Lillard to stay connected with his fans, show them he’s more than just a ballplayer, and grow his social media presence, which leads into the next point…

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  • Damian Lillard

    adidas

    Fan support

    Lillard is already drawing rave reviews from adidas because of the way he tackles his responsibilities. He promotes. He shows interest. He is genuine. He believes in his products. When you have a star willing to put his name behind a brand or sneaker, it opens up so many possibilities. Lillard understands the power of the people and the power of reaching and interacting with them through social media. This won’t necessarily make his sneaker a hit, but it will help to maintain the buzz surrounding the adidas D Lillard line.

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  • Damian Lillard adidas sneaker

    adidas

    Winning

    Isn’t this obvious? Your sneaker, just like your status, goes to the next level when you win. That’s basically a fact at this point. In this regard, it’s a good thing that Portland continues to improve under Lillard’s watch. Last season saw the Blazers win 54 games behind their point guard’s steady All-Star play, and they even won a playoff series before running into the San Antonio buzz saw. In the Blazers’ lone win against the Spurs, Dame threw up 25 points, showing again that the team goes as far as he takes them.

    Now this year, with a deeper Western Conference than we’ve seen in years, Dame and the Blazers are 33-16, with an inside track at homecourt advantage in the first round. The more this man wins, the more people are going to be attracted to him. The more that happens, the more sneakers he will sell.

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  • adidas D Lillard 1

    adidas

    Aesthetics and performance

    The D Lillard 1 brings everything together, from the new logo that fuses “DL” with Lillard’s “0” — a direct ode to his homes of Oakland, Ogden, and Oregon — as well as a callout to the “Fly Guyz,” Lillard’s closest friends and family, to unique rap lyrics written by the man himself on every insole. The sneaker may also feature premium nubuck and leather texturing, but adidas’ Basketball Design Director Robbie Fuller maintains it was always inspired by Dame’s commitment and work ethic.

    With Lillard playing so close to adidas’ home base, the design process featured a lot of back and forth until, finally, they came through with what was necessary for a performance sneaker: Full-length adiprene+ cushioning along the midsole; TECHFIT tongue and inner booty for comfort; and a new low-cut design.

    “My entire life I’ve dreamed of having my own signature shoe,” Lillard said at the launch. “I’ve worked so hard throughout my basketball career and with the support of my family, teammates and fans I’ve been able to get to a point where I’m fortunate enough to achieve that dream. Being in Portland and having such a great, close relationship with everyone at adidas and my fans really makes the shoe representative of who I am on and off the court.”

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  • Damian Lillard buzzer beater Houston NBA Playoffs

    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    Clutch

    The king of clutch? Probably.

    Don’t underestimate this quality. Ever since Michael Jordan put his stamp on the NBA and the sneaker game, we have certain qualities we look for in the players we want to emulate. One of the most important is having a killer instinct and being unafraid of the moment. Dame relishes that opportunity. His three-pointer to win last season’s playoff series against Houston was a defining moment for the young player and we can certainly expect more over the coming years. That instantly makes him cool and makes him someone every young kid wants to be like.

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  • Damian Lillard adidas rapping
  • Damian Lillard
  • Damian Lillard adidas sneaker
  • adidas D Lillard 1
  • Damian Lillard buzzer beater Houston NBA Playoffs

For a guy who was only a two-star recruit in high school and then needed four years of college ball — an anomaly in this day and age — to draw interest from NBA scouts, Damian Lillard has quickly established himself as a major franchise cornerstone in the NBA. Brands have taken notice, too. The 6-3 Portland point guard isn’t just an All-Star. (Dude’s an All-Star. I don’t care what the facts say this year.) He’s not just one of the league’s top lead guards. He has the special qualities that make a brand like adidas stop and take notice. The fact that he has his own signature sneaker now isn’t surprising at all, at least not for the people who have been watching him play ever since he put up 23 points and 11 assists in his first NBA game. We all expected it.

There’s a difference between being a great NBA player and being someone capable of creating and maintaining a dope shoe. Outside of the obvious things such as design and marketing and timing, the player needs specific qualities that’ll make him attractive to fans. Lillard has all of those.

Take a look around the NBA. We know about the history of point guards receiving signature sneakers. But recently, we’ve seen a number of young guards flooding the landscape. John Wall. Kyrie Irving. Stephen Curry. Lillard is at the head of that class.

With his first signature sneaker set to drop this week, everyone in the sneaker community needs to be ready. This could be the start of something awesome, especially when you consider the direction adidas is trending. This is How Damian Lillard Will Make His Signature Sneaker a Powerhouse.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney

image via adidas