NEW YORK — Chris Paul is way more into sneakers than you are.
That became evident almost immediately at the launch event for his latest signature shoe from Jordan Brand, the CP3.VIII, which took place in Manhattan on Wednesday.
“A lot of the shoes I wear during the year, I actually have a NikeID account, and I pay for them,” Paul said. “I go, and I make ’em, and I pay for ’em — just because it’s fun to do, and it’s a lot easier than calling somebody and telling them what I want. I can just go sit at the computer and do it myself.”
Plenty of NBA athletes have signature shoe deals in place, but few are more passionate about the process or as knowledgable about the intricate details of those shoes than Paul is. The interest is genuine, and you can tell that he would be just as engaged even if he wasn’t one of the best basketball players on the planet.
“The best part of having your own shoe is actually putting things into your shoe that people don’t know about — unless you tell them,” Paul said, before recounting some of the insane details that were included on previous versions, and then explaining some that are unique to his latest signature model.
On the inside of the tongue, for example, is a design that’s actually a family tree. And there’s a Chevron logo on the bottom of the sole as a tribute to Paul’s grandfather, who had a gas station that Paul worked at when he was younger. (This actually appears on every one of Paul’s signature sneakers.)
But as with all signature shoes, the design wouldn’t be anything if it wasn’t backed up by an elite level of performance.
Jordan Brand has been going with its new Flight Plate technology in its top-of-the line basketball shoes for the past couple of years, including in the Jordan XX9, which we discussed at length here recently. Paul, however, prefers the Podulite cushioning, and kept it in the latest edition because that’s what he’s become accustomed to feeling in his sneakers over the years.
“I know that the other shoes went to the Flight Plate. Obviously my game is not really about flight,” he told me with a laugh. “It’s more about that comfortability for me. I know what I like, and know what I’m used to, and I think that the Podulon and Podulite technology has been very successful with the shoe. Some of the biggest feedback I usually get from my shoe is how comfortable it is, so I wanted to keep that.”
A full recap of the event can be seen in the video clip above, which includes Paul discussing a specific feature of the shoe that he feels gives him a significant advantage. It also features highlights from a game of pickup at the wear test portion of the event, where he joined in the fun and casually led his team to victory while exerting maybe 10 percent of the effort he’s capable of — an act of kindness, really, just to make us believe that we might have actually had a chance.