Guess what else Barnes, Lowry and Thompson have in common? In the Team USA portrait, none of their shoes are visible. And if you think it’s just a coincidence, you haven’t paid enough for the NBA’s “sneaker wars.”
The suspicious pose of the players in the photo was noted by Nick DePaula of The Vertical, who tweeted: “Amazing. Nike has done it again. DePaula then showed what he meant by “again” when he tweeted the official photo of the 2008 Olympic basketball team.
Only one player on this team has not signed with Nike or any of its subsidiaries, Converse and Jordan Brand. That player, Adidas pitcher Dwight Howard, found himself right next to the team’s seated head coach, Mike Krzyzewski, himself a longtime Nike partner whose left leg just hid Howard’s shoes. In turn, it’s probably no coincidence that the center is the only player with no arms behind his back, holding a ball so as to cover the Swoosh on his shorts.
In May, DePaula penned a story for Nice Kicks that posed the question, “Was Candace Parker cut from the Olympic team for wearing Adidas?” The omission of the two-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time WNBA MVP, who is still only 30, has stunned many observers and sparked much speculation. Several other possible factors were mentioned, including coach Geno Auriemma’s preference for his own Connecticut players, but the apparent snub left another opening for those questioning Nike’s influence on Olympic teams. .
Nike may have said, “We’re one team,” but it once again seems to have found a way around the inconvenient fact that not all players on the team are signed with a shoe conglomerate.