ON A QUIET In the evening a few weeks before the start of the regular season, Wilson Taylor was deep in the Paycom Center laundry room, which also serves as the deep storage facility of the Oklahoma City Thunder equipment manager. At a rack pushed against the wall, he ran his hands over a layer of cloth on a cluster of black and gold Nike shoe boxes. Kobe 8 system TB, size 13.5.
He smiled, knowing which score he had just discovered. He pulled out his phone, snapped a photo, and texted Josh Giddey, Thunder’s rookie.
“Not really!” Giddey wrote back. “Can I come right now?”
Fifteen minutes later, Giddey was inside the building, breaking open the five pairs of orange-and-white Thunder Kobes that had originally been sent to Derek Fisher, who finished his playing career with the Thunder in the 2013-14 season and had previously been a long-time Kobe teammate. Bryant. Giddey, rocking the boxes like a child at Christmas, looked at Taylor and said, “Can I have them all?”
For years, this may have seemed like an unusual request. In the world of excess and fashion celebrity, the NBA, shoes are usually ubiquitous. They are always fresh, always everywhere and usually free.