Written by Joseph Sherman (@BourgeoisiePapi)
What does it take to be the MVP of the NBA? Great stats, making your teammates better, and clutch performances are just a few things that come to mind. Being named MVP of the league, or any league for that matter, is a serious honor that many aspire to achieve (what up, Kevin Durant).
But, in an era where an NBA player's choice of kicks can outshine their actual performance, it is easy to see who had the best sneakers all season: L.A. Laker Nick Young. You may know him as Swaggy P, or dude who is doing "things that shouldn't be legal" with Iggy Azalea, but he flourished in all statistical categories with his sneaker game this year.
Let's dive into Young's sneaker stats. The Laker got into his zone early in the NBA season and didn't look back. Rocking pairs like NIKEiDs and Air Jordans you rarely see worn on court in the NBA, he laced up everything from holy grails to retro gems.
On Christmas Day, Young went deep into his sneaker vault and rocked a pair of custom purple Air Jordan XI lows against the defending champion Miami Heat. If that wasn't enough, Young then switched into the Air Jordan XX “Chutney” at halftime.
One of Young's biggest sneaker highlights of the NBA season was debuting the Nike Kobe 9 Elite on the court. Of course, it helped that Kobe Bryant was shut down for the season with an injury, and Young happened to wear the same shoe size. But a win is a win.
If a true sign of a great player is ability to make his teammates better, then Young's sneaker game succeeded at that also. As usual, he stunted on the sneaker community when he announced that he would wear the Supreme x Nike Air Foamposite One. This prompted teammate and fellow sneaker connoisseur Kendall Marshall to show off his own Nike Foamposite collection. Following the back and forth sneaker battle, Marshall ramped up his sneaker game when he debuted the “Nightshade” Air Jordan XI Low.
But it's not just about the sneakers a player puts on his feet, but the ability to somehow back it up with performance on the court. Any player can have the best sneakers while he rides the bench for 48 minutes, but Young was a legit 6th Man of the Year candidate throughout the season. And right before the Lakers' year ended, he dropped 40 points in a pair of "Wheat" Air Zoom Generations. Though his efforts resulted in a tough loss, Young proved to the Lakers that he might be worth a contract extension. And as the team dwindled at the end of the season, Young did so in style—capping off the final home game of season in the “Galaxy” Nike Air Foamposite One.
There are, undoubtedly, other huge sneaker nuts in the NBA. Tony Wroten consistently wore retro Air Jordans—even having the sole fall off his Air Jordan Xs—and Amir Johnson was given "OVO" Air Jordans XIIs by Drake. But Wroten played on an atrocious 76ers team (even worse than Young's Lakers), and Amir Johnson's sneakers looked to be pairs that were flowed to him, not part of his personal collection.
If someone wants to compare Young to the season's real MVP, Durant, his stats don't stand up. But his sneakers far exceed what Durant had on his feet. Sure, Durant was always laced in a fresh pair of KD VIs, but he was paid to wear those sneakers as part of his Nike contract. His rotation lacked the variety that Young broke out on an almost nightly basis.
Young was never a serious candidate for NBA MVP, but he succeeded in keeping his name in the headlines and his feet on the sneaker blogs. He also gave 'heads something to look forward to every night that he stepped onto the court. So just accept it, Swaggy P is this year's sneaker MVP.