On Monday, Nike officially unveiled the PG1, the first signature sneaker for Indiana Pacers star Paul George. After much anticipation, George will debut the PG1 when the Pacers meet the Denver Nuggets on Thursday in international NBA action from London.
Ahead of the sneaker’s on-court debut, Footwear News looks at three reasons that the PG1 is more important for Nike than you may realize.
1. Nike Is Taking a Gamble
Although George has proven himself as an elite NBA player, a signature sneaker is unchartered territory for the three-time NBA All-Star. As noted in the PG1’s press release, less than 1 percent of Swoosh-endorsed athletes have received a signature shoe in Nike’s 44-year history. That means that the brand is going all-in on George, welcoming him into an exclusive club as he joins current NBA stars such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Numbers don’t lie, and George has shown he can get it done on both ends of the court. However, some might argue that his level of play hasn’t been the same since he sustained a leg injury during the 2014 FIBA World Cup. The verdict is still out whether George will be able to sell a signature shoe like his peers.
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2. It Could Reignite a Sluggish Basketball Market
The basketball sneaker market continues to struggle, turning what was once Nike’s biggest earner into a dismal category. With new signature models such as the LeBron 14 on the horizon, the PG1 could be the missing piece of the puzzle Nike needs to sway interest back to the hardwood.
Aside from the excitement around it being George’s first signature shoe, the PG1 has a number of things going for it. For starters, the unveiling of the Tony Hardman-designed signature model was well-received on social media, especially in comparison to other recent signature basketball models such as the “Chef” Under Armour Curry 2 Low. The sneaker’s wallet-friendly price point ($110) is also a positive, as ballers won’t have to break the bank to obtain the shoes.
3. It Could Shape the Future of the Brand
If the Nike PG1 winds up being a success a retail, Nike may be more likely to take risks on giving signature shoes to rising stars in the future. On the other hand, if for some reason the sneaker does not perform well, we could see less variety among signature models going forward.
Another factor worth mentioning is the debut colorway of the PG1’s tie-in to video games. The special-edition “2K” colorway of the PG1 (pictured) was designed to celebrate George’s love for gaming and is also a nod to his appearance on the cover of “NBA 2K17,” with a graphic of his in-game likeness printed on the insole. With video games and virtual reality gaining popularity in the mainstream, Nike has an opportunity to win over fans who otherwise may not have been interested in sneakers.