Derrick Rose’s Signature Sneaker History

When analyzing Derrick Rose‘s impact on the sneaker culture, there are a few numbers that come to mind. Five, as in the number of signature sneakers the former MVP will have once the adidas D Rose 5 Boost drops on Thursday at Champs Sports. Fifty, as in the number of games (regular season and postseason combined) Rose has played since 2011. Four, as in Rose’s spot on Forbes‘ list of the NBA’s leading shoe salesmen. (He sold $40 million in each of the last two seasons.) And, finally, zero, as in the players who can match Rose’s passion for his city, his pride, his humbleness, and his exciting, air-walking style of play.

One of the first times I met Rose was at the adidas D Rose 3.0 event in his hometown of Chicago, just a few short weeks before Chicago’s 2012 training camp. He was coming off his first major reconstructive surgery, carrying an entire city on his pack, the pressure, the expectations, all of that love.

It was an emotionally-charged event, and it left Rose in tears, breaking down in front of the media. It wasn’t scripted. It was real.

“I could’ve easily went down that other road like some of the people in my neighborhood,” Rose said that day, staggering. “But because of my family, I avoided it.

“It’s truly a blessing. For all of this stuff that is going on…in this city…a kid from Englewood’s got something positive going on…that makes me feel so good…this shoe is great…this is all…this is great…I…I can’t explain this. I can’t.

“We weren’t supposed to be here…at all.”

For much of the past few years, adidas went out of its way to market Rose’s toughness and road to recovery, and while that backfired a bit–especially after dubbing it “The Return,” only to see Rose’s return not work out the way it was planned–it did leave one defining mark. Rarely do we ever get to see a superstar athlete humbled to the depths that Rose was, and rarely do we get to feel an athlete’s pain so profoundly. They never let us in. Rose and adidas, for once, did. That inspired people and it became the defining characteristic of Rose’s sneaker line.

You see that within his commercials as well. I’ve always maintained that Rose’s collection of sneaker ads were among the best I’d ever seen. But over the years they’ve changed, going from classic commercials like “The Bull” and Rose’s collaborations with Big Sean that celebrated the player’s incredible gifts and penchant for showmanship to ads like “Basketball is Everything” that tell us to focus on Rose’s love of the game and his will and determination to never give up.

Rose’s signature sneaker has steadily improved over the years but yet has never forgotten its roots. Perhaps it wasn’t done on purpose by the adidas designers, but I like to think that they’ve stayed consistent in their design and aesthetics because Rose has done the same, growing up in Chicago and now playing for the Bulls, going all out for the same city that raised him. Even after adidas signed Rose to one of the largest sneaker deals ever–for a reported $250 million that eventually became $185 million for 13 years–his sneaker line has stayed consistent and true to what makes him unique. For all of his exciting play, Rose is a homebody who loves his family, loves his city, and has all of the grittiness and toughness you’d want in a franchise player. The Brenda colorway–inspired by Rose’s love for his mother–is a staple of the line, while every Rose signature sneaker to date has included a midsole Sprintframe to help keep him stable while in motion, an upper made of Sprintweb, and Geofit ankle collar cushioning to help support a player who explodes and makes quick cuts all over the floor.

Some of the changes over the years include the side paneling of the earlier models, which were eventually dropped in the 3.0. That same shoe was also the first to fully embrace the D Rose moniker, dropping the adiZero nickname in the process. It sported a diamond cut upper that not only looked amazing but became a staple of the line over the course of the next two releases. The D Rose 3 was also our first look at Rose’s signature “rose” logo.

The D Rose 5 Boost releasing this week will feature everything you’d come to expect from a Rose sneaker. There are the traditional home and away colorways, as well as the well-regarded Brenda colorway that’ll surely turn the new school cats into fiends for another all-red sneaker. But now five sneakers deep–not to mention all of the .5 editions–adidas is taking the next step by outfitting Rose with full-length Boost technology, a recent development by their designers that is replacing old midsoles with new ones made up of thousands of small pebbles of TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) to help with energy return.

Building off of the foundation set by the 3.0 and the 4.0, two sneakers that featured almost identical heel padding, midsoles, and toe boxes, the D Rose 5 Boost looks like it has just enough evolution. The line does not want to dramatically change its approach each year. It only wants to build and maintain, which is exactly what Rose wants. A foundation. A plan. A way to push forward and push on. That story has been reiterated over and over again throughout Rose’s years with adidas and the plot is not changing anytime soon.

Derrick Rose is back for the new NBA season. He’s bringing his newest signature sneaker, his best so far, with him.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney