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Giannis, Dame, Boogie, Ben Simmons and Jayson Tatum react to new NBA sneaker rule

‘The NBA is giving us a chance to really be creative — to be ourselves on the court’

NEW YORK — “It’s about time,” Ben Simmons said with a smile.

The 6-foot-10 point guard for the Philadelphia 76ers, and reigning NBA Rookie of the Year, has only been in the league for two years — but in that time he’s had to hold back on which shoes he breaks out on the court because of the NBA’s footwear restrictions. Yet, starting in the upcoming 2018-19 season, Simmons and other players across the league will be granted sneaker freedom.

According to ESPN’s Nick DePaula, for the first time ever, the NBA will allow players to wear sneakers of any color throughout the entire season. “Historically,” as DePaula reported, “all sneakers on a team were restricted to being either 51 percent white or black, plus a minimal team color accent, depending on which team was hosting or visiting.” There are currently no specific guidelines outlined in the NBA’s official rulebook, but varying levels of restrictions have led to warnings, fines and bans of sneakers drawn by athletes. Now, the league is making an effort to allow its players to be more expressive.

At the launch event for NBA 2K19 in Brooklyn last week, The Undefeated’s Aaron Dodson caught up with five current players who shared their excitement about the recent change in the NBA’s shoe rule.


Ben Simmons

The sneakers worn by Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons during a game against the Atlanta Hawks on March 30.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

“Now I can wear whatever, so it’s gonna be dope. … I got some bright colors coming.”

Damian Lillard

The sneakers worn by Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard before a game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Jan. 30.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

“I thought it was lifted last year! I saw people wearing all kind of stuff. … I’m gonna definitely take advantage of that. Even though I get a little uncomfortable when the colors get too crazy, and go away from the color of the uniform I’m wearing. But I guess I’m gonna have to play with it a little more. … I haven’t been fined, but I’ve been warned for shoes … I wanna say it was for my Bapes last year.”

DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins

The sneakers worn by New Orleans Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins during a game against the Dallas Mavericks on Nov. 3, 2017.

Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

“The NBA is giving us a chance to really be creative, to be ourselves on the court. … The league has been doing a great job of that lately. Adam Silver is super dope for that. He’s letting us be creative creatures out there, so you can expect some wild stuff. … I’ll do my thing, but I’m a little more low-key.”

Jayson Tatum

The sneakers worn by Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum during the third quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 6 of the first round of the 2018 NBA playoffs on April 26.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

“I’m really excited. Guys are gonna go crazy next year. So I’ll make sure I bring something out the closet.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo

The shoes worn by Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo during the second half of a game on March 28.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

“I’m going crazy … I can wear whatever color I want, whenever I want. Before, it seemed like we could just wear white and black. But now, I can wear yellow … I can wear sky blue … whatever pops in my head. … You’re going to see a lot of creativity in players. It’s definitely good for the league.”

and Which NBA player will take most advantage of the new rule?

Simmons:LeBron.”

Cousins: Russ, for sure.”

Tatum: Kyrie got his own shoe, so can’t nobody compete with him.”

Antetokounmpo: “LeBron … even though he goes crazy every year. … And the young guys like Donovan Mitchell, Kyle Kuzma, Devin Booker, Karl-Anthony Towns. … Oh, and P.J. Tucker, he’ll go crazy. … There’s gonna be a lot of guys switching shoes up.”

Aaron Dodson is an associate editor at The Undefeated. Often mistaken for Aaron Dobson, formerly of the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals, he was one letter away from being an NFL wide receiver.