adidas Basketball

Earlier today it was reported that both Trae Young & Lonnie Walker IV are now a part of the adidas Basketball family. Both players are expected to be highly-coveted lottery picks at this year’s NBA Draft.

The newest members of adidas Basketball will each bring their one-of-a-kind game and personality to adidas’s progressive footwear and apparel basketball brand.

Trae and Lonnie will play an instrumental role in driving performance insights, in addition to creating deeper connections within basketball communities across the globe. They will also be featured in upcoming brand campaigns and activations.

Player Profiles:

Trae Young

Humble and hungry. This family-oriented freshman took the nation by storm his first year at Oklahoma, becoming the first player in NCAA history to lead the nation in both points (27.4) and assists (8.7) per game. Trae may be quiet off the court but certainly makes noise when he laces up. He’s an electric player who creates with finesse, sharp-shooting and dynamic handles, looking to redefine the game on his own terms.

Lonnie Walker IV

Raw talent. Lonnie quickly made a name for himself in his freshman year at Miami with dominating feats of athleticism. He’s a leave you in the dust, head above the rim type of showstopper. With the game on the line, Lonnie is going to be his opponent’s worst nightmare and take matters into his own hands. Explosive scoring, unrivaled work ethic and creativity in the paint is what will elevate Walker to the next level.

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Last week we had the privilege of flying out to Las Vegas to attend the 2nd annual adidas Basketball LVL3 event. So what’s LVL3? adidas defines it as “the ultimate playground for the basketball creator.” And that’s exactly what it felt like when you took a step into the magnificent space.

Located at The Chelsea Theater in the Cosmopolitan Hotel, adidas created a one-of-a-kind space that included a basketball court that allowed basketball players and fans alike the chance to lace up the new adidas hoops Crazy Explosive 17, practice their posterization skills at the 360-dunk cam, and improve their game through sessions with top skills trainers. There was also a MakerLab area where you were able to create a personalized t-shirt with your own name and number on it. A few stars were also in attendance as we saw special appearances from a few NBA guys that included James Harden, Damian Lillard, Derrick Rose, Andrew Wiggins, Jamal Murray, Marcus Smart, Thon Maker, Brandon Ingram, Kelly Oubre Jr, and Jaylen Brown.

Day 1

When I landed in Vegas I was picked up at the airport and taken to the Cosmopolitan Hotel where I checked in and took the elevator up to my room on the 41st floor. When I opened the door I was greeted to a few surprises on my bed which included some adidas athletic apparel, a “Here To Create” Kit (more on that later), and the adidas Harden LS “Sweet Life” which so just happened to release that very same day. There was no time to waste as an hour after I arrived I headed downstairs to the Chelsea Theater where all of the media invitees were greeted with our own pair of the adidas Crazy Explosive 2017 to weartest. Everyone laced up the sneakers and we went on to run a few basketball drills with the direction of an instructor and then played a few pick-up games. Day 1 concluded with a pool party at The Wynn.

Day 2

On day 2 of LVL3 we had the opportunity to interview Alex Zerzan, Global Product Manager for adidas Basketball. Alex has been with adidas since 2007 and is one of the masterminds behind designing shoes like the Dame 3, Crazy Explosive, and now the Crazy Explosive 2017. We asked Alex a few questions regarding the design of the Crazy Explosive 2017, as well as what we can expect to see in the near future.

Kicks On Fire: How much input did you have in the design of the shoe?

Alex Zerzan, Global Product Manager for adidas Basketball: Well you know when we go out and set to create a shoe like the Crazy Explosive 2017 it really starts 18 months out, talking with kids, talking with consumers, with basketball players, boys and girls to get the insight on what they want to see in their shoe and in their footwear. That’s really the driving force behind what the shoe starts to look like and how it starts to take place, it’s always consumer-driven. We need to know what we can improve on from last year’s model and how we can make it better. When you look at that process it’s really a team process from marketing, design, and development, 18 months back really working together to figure out how we can make last year’s version even better. 

KOF: So when the Crazy Explosive released last year, you had already started working/designing on the Crazy Explosive 2017? 

AZ: Umm…yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re in the early concepts of it yeah definitely. You’re already starting to think about it and figure out how you can make it better, how you can up the ante, how you can improve on it. As adidas Basketball and marketing, and design, and development our goal is to make the best product for the athletes that’s gonna allow that athlete to go out and perform to the highest level of their ability. 

KOF: So it’s been 18 months of hard work like you said, how does it feel for the shoe to finally hit shelves today?

AZ: Man, it’s great! It’s awesome. You look at this event (LVL3) it’s such a great event. Last night I was at the game with Zion (Williamson) and just seeing people and kids wear the shoe on-court to go out there and compete at such an important event where they’re really playing for their next opportunity, their next scholarship, whatever it may be. It was pretty surreal, it was a cool experience. 

KOF: The Crazy Explosive 2017 uses a new Forged Primeknit upper, can you talk a little more about that?

AZ: Yeah. So last year we had Primeknit. Primeknit is some of the best technology that adidas has, the kids love it. But really what we wanted to do is we wanted to figure out how to make it better. And talking with kids, kids always wanna be faster and lighter on-court. It’s gonna allow them to run faster and jump higher. Forged Primeknit allows us to take away some of the materials and some of the backers that you don’t necessarily see on the shoe. On the first version that gave the support needed, we can achieve that type of structure and stability with Forged Primeknit while taking away those materials. So essentially, Forged Primeknit allows us to make the shoe lighter, more breathable, but just as strong. 

KOF: So you added the new elastic sock-like ankle onto this year’s version, what was the reason behind that?

AZ: Some of the feedback that we got last year was that maybe the shoe felt like a big man shoe and we wanted to make sure that this shoe was a shoe for everybody. The sock allows the fit to be more tailored, it’s more comfortable. Talking with those athletes, with those kids, with those consumers: comfort, style, and traction were the three main things that they always brought up. And so the collar allows it to be more tailored, be more comfortable, and it makes it look much sleeker. It’s something that you can put it on a guard, you can put it on a big, you can even wear it casually, and it’s gonna fit with today’s style of game on-court and with today’s style in streetwear. 


KOF: Final question before we let you go Alex, the Vegas colorway that released today (and sold out in minutes on features a multicolored Primeknit upper and a graphic outsole, is that a preview of what we can expect to see in the near future?

AZ: Yeah, I would say that shoe and what you see there is just the tip of the iceberg as far as what you’re gonna see guys lacing up on-court for special moments, for special events, during big games. You’ll have to wait and see what we got, but we have some fire coming.

After getting the opportunity to chat with Alex, up next was an interview with Oakland/Portland’s own Damian Lillard aka Dame D.O.L.L.A. Fresh off his Summer Basketball Camp in Oregon, Dame took some time out of his day to let us know what his relationship with adidas has been like so far, among other things.

Image via: Casey Holdahl

Kicks On Fire: You’ve been with adidas a few years now, what’s your relationship like with the brand and how do you like it?

Damian Lillard: I got a great relationship with the brand. Everything that we do I’m involved in and everything is genuine, everything that’s being pushed is genuine. It’s my story, it’s a story that I wanna tell and that’s the best way to go when I can be fully invested in something because it’s directly related to me, it’s something that I want to be put out there. So it’s been a great relationship so far. 

KOF: What are some of your favorite sneakers to wear off the court?

DL: When I’m not playing, the shoes you got on I like all the Boost ( I was wearing Ultra Boosts), Stan Smiths, Yeezys, I wear my shoes off the court, shell toes, Tubulars, I mean all them comfortable walk-around shoes.

KOF: You’re on the verge of releasing your 4th signature shoe with adidas, what does it mean for you to have four shoes under your belt?

DL: I mean it’s kinda crazy to think about it. I was just saying how you think about all the athletes that got 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, all the way up to 15 shoes and I’m already at 4. It seems like the 1s just came out so the fact that I’ve been able to continue to be a signature athlete and have a shoe coming out each year has been an honor for me.

The final interview of the day was with with Andrew Wiggins of the Minnesota Timberwolves, one of the rising stars of the NBA and the muse of the adidas Crazy Explosive 2017.

Kicks On Fire: You wore the Crazy Explosive last season, how does the Crazy Explosive 2017 compare?

Andrew Wiggins: It’s similar. Every year you know, the Crazy Explosive gets better and this one is more comfortable, the traction is better, even the Boost technology is better. 

KOF: What would it mean for you to get your own signature shoe somewhere down the line? 

AW: It would mean everything. Growing up that’s all you think of, being in the NBA and getting your own signature shoe. It would be a dream come true. 

To cap off day two there were a couple of fun basketball activities (that you probably saw on our IG story) highlighted by the Dunk Contest. Watching the dunk contest and these “kids” in person you would never even imagine that they were still in high school. Their athletic ability was OFF the charts.

Day 3

Since my flight was in the afternoon on Friday there wasn’t too much left to do but we did hit up the MakerLab where we created our own personalized shirts with our name and number on the back. We also finally opened up our “Here To Create” kits which encouraged us to express our individuality by drawing a message or some kind of object. It’s safe to say that I failed miserably as my mind was drawing blanks and I have very little artistic talent haha.. At least I tried though, right?

Unfortunately Derrick Rose and James Harden didn’t arrive to the event until after I had already left so I didn’t get the opportunity to interview them. Hopefully next year I will though.


Overall it was a great experience that I’ll never forget being that it was my very first adidas event and the first time I actually traveled to another state for an event. Big thank you to adidas Basketball and all of their staff who made this a memorable experience for me. I’m already looking forward to hitting up LVL3 next year!

Words by Andres Carrillo

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