Heat Check: Grading Isaiah Thomas' sneaker shopping
It’s no secret that if you liked sneakers growing up but lived a less-than-privileged life, you either always dreamed of wearing Jordans or you rocked knockoffs with pride. I know I did, wearing a pair of Jordan 6s with a white/blue colorway as I fronted like I had the real thing through much of 5th Grade.
Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Isaiah Thomas knows this all too well.
In the latest episode of Sneaker Shopping, Complex goes to Xhibition in Cleveland, Ohio with the Cavs’ star guard. While there, Thomas reminisces about the days of his youth, recalling his father’s love for sneakers and gold chains. Pops apparently wore the Nike Air Max on the regular and his influence trickled down to a young I.T. Like most of us, the Thomas fam didn’t have all the money in the world so they got what they got and that’s that.
When he was able to get some fresh sneaks -- and they weren’t fake -- Thomas was all about rocking a pair of Jordans or Uptempos (nice). Now that he’s a rich basketball player, the days of missing out on hot releases have passed because A) he’s got the money and B) retros are dropping all the time so he can now cop what he might have been forced to drop back in the day.
Keep in mind this is LeBron James’ teammate, so there may or may not be pressure to cop some LBJs on his shopping spree. On one hand, Thomas has to look out for his boy and give him some props for having his own signature line of sneakers. On the other hand, most LeBrons are fire and should be copped when coppable. With the recent retro release of the Nike Air Zoom Generation QS, Thomas got his LeBrons in the dominant black colorway. These are a good get.
Jordans are, of course, typically a must-cop, and it looks as though Thomas follows that train of thought. He snagged a pair of Air Jordan 13 Altitude 2017s, a dominant black with “Altitude Green” colorway that we first saw in 2005 and retroed again last year. While the design is exactly that of the classic Jordan 13s, the all-black scheme tends to hide the shoe’s unique pattern across the side of the upper. While still a strong pair of 13s, they’re not the first I would cop.
Thomas is admittedly a fan of low-top sneakers. As such, he bought the Nike Air Force 1 ‘07 Rocafellas, a low top inspired by the classic pair of way back in the day with additional influence by Roc-a-Fella Records. This pair serves more for fashion than function, which is fine but I prefer a pair that serves both purposes.
Thomas also bought some candles, hoodies and extremely overpriced shirts that I would have left on the shelf. But hey, if you want to pay $350 for something you can get at Walmart for $3.50, that’s all you. Luckily for I.T., it doesn’t hurt his grade because we’re looking strictly at the quality of sneaker purchases.
The buys here are conservative from a monetary standpoint. He didn’t cop anything above $190, even though countless sneakers eclipse that figure nowadays. Although he didn’t drop hundreds of dollars on one pair, he still got some quality sneaks, all of which are throwbacks to days when he was forced to rock knockoffs. Nothing purchased was fake, so one has to be happy for him there.
While the Air Force 1s are fine for fashion, it’s a shame he didn’t cop a low-top sneaker he can play in. Yes, he can lace up the AF1s to hoop, but I don’t imagine the Rocafellas being the go-to lows for someone who’s a starting NBA point guard, especially because of the pair’s fashion-first status. I would expect him as someone who wears Kobes fairly regularly to get a pair of those if he’s going to prop up a lows.
The Generation QSs are fresh. That’s a retro sneaker almost anyone can get behind, and their design looks good paired with jeans or basketball shorts. The same can go for the Jordan 13 Altitudes, but the all-black colorway on the upper takes away from its unique pattern. Perhaps he should have waited until the 13s with the “Hyper Royal” colorways come out this spring, this way the pattern is clearly visible and it’s a great alternative colorway.
Overall grade: B
(image via Complex)