Russell Westbrook and Air Jordan

To describe Russell Westbrook as flamboyant would be an understatement, and his unmistakable style on and off the court was the principal reason why Air Jordan wanted to collaborate with the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard. The resulting catalogue of court-ready high tops didn’t disappoint, with the Jordan ‘Why Not Zer0.1’ debuting in Autumn 2018 it laid the foundations for what is seemingly set to become an expansive and successful venture for the 2017 NBA MVP. Whether he’s producing one of his trademark power dunks that send reverberations around the arena and get crowds jumping to their feet, or when he’s arriving on game day sporting his own blend of outlandish stylings, Russell Westbrook knows how to turn heads. As expected, Air Jordan has been able to capture the very essence of everything the man stands for, as he would put in his own words, “owning the chaos”.

The ‘Why Not Zer0.1’ set a naturally high bar offering up healthy portions of sleek style and futuristic cutting-edge in equal measure, while still delivering an aesthetic that is instantly recognisable as an Air Jordan product, just one that has been spliced with Westbrooks court stomping patented quirky appeal. As to be expected from an Air Jordan release each model is expertly crafted for use on the court, and so is jam-packed with the type of technical detailing and new age support that Westbrook would require to stay on top of his game. Its features include a sturdy mesh upper, full-length Zoom Air sole, and a compression-moulded foam piece – specially engineered to provide maximum bounce on the court. With a heel cup that looks directly lifted from another ahead-of-its-time Air Jordan 15.

Why Not Zer0.2

The success of this first iteration to the Air Jordan x Russell Westbrook collaboration led to a whole array of colourways being released for the silhouette ranging from muted grey and black tones to popping blues, oranges and reds, but it would from the duos follow up silhouette, released in January 2019, where things really start to get interesting. The ‘Why Not Zer0.2’ takes everything Westbrook’s debut model did so successfully and supercharges it. The first colourway to hit shelves an ode to the point guard’s youth and to the youth of today, aptly named ‘Future History’ this shoe’s multi-coloured design might at first appear as random, but the colours used in its multi-textured blocking arrangement each represent a uniform Westbrook wore that helped to define him. Although striking in appearance, how it looks to the eye isn’t top of this models list of priorities, the product is first and foremost designed as a high-performance court shoe – one that Russell himself will be able to rock on the court and help him achieve the highest levels of performance of which his fans are accustomed to seeing.

The Why Not Zer0.2 ‘Future History’ became the first of what is now a four colourway set, with the later three released a month later in February 2019.  The Why NotZer0.2 ‘The Family’ the most understated of the bunch, a two-tone black and white composition that pays homage to the self-proclaimed most important thing in Russell Westbrook’s life, his family. With the last two creations sporting all the more vibrant colours in the ‘All-Star’ and just in time for the year celebrations the Why NotZer0.2 ‘Black History Month’ showcasing an array of different modernised prints that evoke a theme of Afrofuturism in sports. All of which present their own unique appeal, one that is hard to pinpoint precisely but even harder to deny. The Why NotZero0.2 in a lot of ways does an excellent job of mimicking the man they are designed for, Russell Westbrook is as much a high-flying court technician as he is a flashy showman and this model appears to buy into this delicate balance. Exhibiting what an exceptionally well-designed performance shoe can achieve when it is styled with the flair and finesse attributed to Westbrook himself.

Why Not Zer0.2 Super Soaker

For me, however eyebrow-raising these designs appear, it is one that hasn’t been released to the general public that for me is the type of shoe I get most excited about. A concept I haven’t seen before, something that captivates from the first time you lay eyes on it, and when Russell Westbrook walked into the TD Garden ahead of his Oklahoma City Thunder facing the Boston Celtics, I was dumbfounded at what I saw. Westbrook was carrying the hightops he would be wearing for the game, and they came housed in the type of packaging you wouldn’t expect from a pair of Jordans. A nod to the 90s, the appropriately named Jordan Why Not Zer0.2 Super Soaker is inspired in aesthetic by the classic Super Soaker 50 water gun that was a part of everyone’s childhood until it began to leak from the plastic seam, and the cardboard packaging complete with white zip ties has been directly imitated in this exclusive trainer. The original tagline from the nostalgic water gun “The most powerful water gun ever!” has been replaced with “The most powerful point guard ever!” and to me, the sheer pageantry and creativity the designer has been able to achieve with this trainer is precisely what trainer culture is all about. It is one thing to design a trainer that customers will love, but it’s something greater entirely to be able to release something that speaks to the broader culture of its audience and puts a smile on your face for a different reason. Whether or not this iteration of Russell Westbrooks second silhouette will ever hit general release and be available at Laced is doubtful, but one thing is for sure, the Why Not Zer0.2 is causing a splash in 2019.