Champs Sports Presents :24 – The Names and Storylines That Will Matter This Year in the NBA

  • Kevin Durant, Jay Z

    @easymoneysniper

    Kevin Durant & Roc Nation

    The fledgling sports arm of Jay Z’s representation company has proven it’s here to stay with a strong cast of athletes now under their watchful eyes. This NBA season provides perhaps the biggest test of all, however: maneuvering through Kevin Durant’s pending free agency. We’ve seen messy free agency shenanigans go down with megastars in the past, and Durant will be dogged by questions about his future all season. How he handles the situation will dominate headlines, and provide a strong test of the management skills of his handlers.

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  • Chris Paul Jordan CP3.IX Suede

    @cp3

    Lifestyle/”Premium” Sneakers

    The sneaker game is alive and thriving, primarily because companies are taking more chances in design. Thanks to the success of shoes like the LeBron 12 Lifestyle, it seems like we’re about to get hit with a wave of “alternate” shoes from manufacturers. Look no further than previews of the CP3.IX (in all-leather and suede versions) on Chris Paul’s IG.

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  • Anthony Davis

    @antdavis_23

    Anthony Davis

    Each of the past few seasons has featured a breakout from a talented player who captures the NBA world’s attention–see examples like Steph Curry, James Harden, and Derrick Rose. No one is better positioned to be the new NBA “it” player than AD, with his otherworldly combination of shot-blocking, offensive versatility, and trademark unibrow. He’s already great, but he’s about to take the world by storm.

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  • Gerald Green dunk
    Vine/GIF Recapping

    Sharing the story of a game has evolved from print to amateur videography, with Vines regularly dominating NBA Twitter on game nights. The natural step in this evolution is to use this as a primary form of communicating the game to fans. Why just tell when you can show too?

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  • James Harden adidas

    @jharden13

    James Harden’s Signature

    We don’t yet know what adidas has in mind for James Harden, but you can bet the release of a signature sneaker for an MVP candidate will generate waves. (Even though we may not get the actual sneaker for another year or so, you can bet that by spring we’ll have an idea where this partnership is heading.) The addition of Harden to a growing adidas roster gives the three-striped brand increased power in the marketplace, and allows Harden to emerge as the face of the brand. Combining Boost tech with Harden’s fashion sense should be fruitful for everyone.

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  • @22wiggins

    Big Hair and Beards

    If you were paying attention on media day, you might have noticed that hairstyles have changed for a bunch of players around the league. Facial hair has slowly been making a comeback the last few years, so it seems about time that NBA athletes show off a little more scruff alongside some crazy haircuts. It might not be the most aerodynamic decision, but guys like Andrew Wiggins should still be flying through the air with a little extra up top.

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  • Golden State Warriors ESPYs

    @stephencurry30

    Stephen Curry and the Warriors

    As the defending champions, the script is changing for Golden State; they will have to deal with wearing a target on their backs from opening night. What separates them from previous pace-and-space teams like the San Antonio Spurs is the vibrancy of their talisman, Steph Curry. In comparison to the low-key dominance of Tim Duncan, Curry is an unavoidable flamethrower just seconds away from another heat check. They are built for the Twitter era, where people can shout about their bursts of ridiculousness.

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  • @unotone_loe

    Bolder kicks...

    Having famously banned the Air Jordan I for not properly matching uniform, it appears the NBA has softened on in-game sneaker choices in recent seasons. Players have mostly skated around the policy with complementary colors and combinations of greys and blacks, but the league’s official #NBAKicks hashtag shows they’re more open to on-foot diversity than ever before. Look for some of the league’s sneaker mavens to continue testing the limits this season.

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  • Russell Westbrook

    @russwest44

    …and “Duller” Fashion

    We’ve grown accustomed to off-the-wall fashion in recent years–think Russell Westbrook in astronaut-esque clothing–but it feels like a market correction is on the horizon by way of more traditional dress wear. Several stars like Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade even have their own tie lines, so there’s already an undercurrent ready to rise up. Westbrook will provide plenty of IG fodder on his own, but expect players as a whole to tone it down just a bit.

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  • LeBron James Instagram

    @KingJames

    LeBron James

    How could there be an NBA preview list without King James? Whether it’s attempting to make another run to the Finals or showcasing the latest and greatest in Nike tech on his feet, you can bet that whatever LeBron touches will have a cascading effect. As he inches closer to the back end of his career, he remains a cultural tour de force.

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  • Kevin Durant, Jay Z
  • Chris Paul Jordan CP3.IX Suede
  • Anthony Davis
  • Gerald Green dunk
  • James Harden adidas
  • Golden State Warriors ESPYs
  • Russell Westbrook
  • LeBron James Instagram

More so than in any other league, game takes on a vital role in the NBA. It isn’t just about making shots or playing defense. It’s about staying fly for the cameras, crowds, and fans. In the week leading off to tipoff for the 2015-16 NBA season, this will be the only preview you need. At Champs Sports, we know game. We can see it in the sneakers. The uniforms. The sounds. The faces. The fans. We see it everywhere. Get schooled on what’s going to happen next.

***

The NBA might be in a better place than it has ever been, both in terms of talent and its gravitas in the American sports landscape. It has come a long way from a fledgling league that had to fight to get air time; predecessors like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and plenty of others helped push it to the space it occupies today.

Jordan in particular helped establish a baseline that perhaps defines the league today–the blend of cultural importance and sporting interest. Sure, being Like Mike was about imitating his moves on the court, learning how to perfect your turnaround fadeaway or hang your tongue out on the way to the rim. But it was also about style, the transcendent sneaker line and the iconic commercials, the appearance in Space Jam that sucked in people who had no interest in the NBA.

Both the league and its players are aware of the power they hold today. They are the only major sport in America where the athletes faces are on full display at all times. Other leagues cover faces with hat brims, facemasks, and visors, but the NBA’s talent is front and center at all times. The instant recognition that comes with that allows players to be trendsetters and cultural tastemakers, whether it’s from flashy dunks or teasing sneaker releases on Instagram.

Of course, not everyone (or everything) can be relevant at once, and select names and trends will dominate the NBA scene this season. Who and what are they? These are the Names and Storylines That Will Matter This Year in the NBA.

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image via Layne Murdoch/Getty Images