×

How NBA Star Jimmy Butler Discovered Blu Scarpa, His Favorite Off-Court Shoe Brand

Sometimes you need a little help from your friends.

NBA star Jimmy Butler, who laces up Li-Ning shoes on the basketball court, wears something far different when off the hardwood. During the offseason, the sneaker of choice for the Miami Heat baller was from Blu Scarpa, a brand founded by his friend, footwear entrepreneur Matthew Chevallard.

Since meeting several years ago, Butler and Chevallard have built an unshakable friendship — although their relationship has no business ties. The two, however, share a commonality in a relentless entrepreneurial spirit.

Butler’s has brought his vision to life through Big Face Coffee, an idea that famously started in his hotel room during the 2019-20 NBA season in the COVID bubble at Disney World in Orlando, Fla. While in the bubble, Butler would charge people $20 for his coffee, which fans couldn’t get enough of on social media. In the time since, Butler has launched BigFace Brand on Oct. 1, 2021 — which is International Coffee Day — which offers branded apparel and more, in addition to all things coffee.

As for Chevallard, much of his entrepreneurial spirit is expressed through footwear, starting with the luxury men’s slipper brand Del Toro that he co-founded in 2005. Although Chevallard has since departed that business, the line was an immediate hit with NBA stars and the fashion-focused alike. More recently, he employed his luxury mindset to create Blu Scarpa, creating products he described as a “perfect arsenal for the modern man” with nods to the sports fashion and lifestyle of the 1980s.

“I always support good people, and that’s what Matt is. He knows that I love him to death, even though I always butcher his last name — I’ll just call him Matt, I call him Chevy,” Butler said with a laugh. “I’m always going to support my people, my friends.”

More recently, Butler and Chevallard’s bond was strengthened further over tennis.

“Matt was one of the first people to get me into tennis because he knows how competitive I am. One day out of the blue, he was like, ‘Yo, Jimmy, do you play tennis?’ And I looked at him like, ‘Do I play? No. Can you beat me? No.’ That’s the look I gave him,” Butler said with a laugh.

Chevallard has had tennis in his life forever. Inspired by the likes of Andre Agassi, whose effortlessly cool style was second only to his game on the court, Chevallard played throughout his childhood and adolescence. Although his love of the sport has waned over time, he said the passion was recently reignited by friend Reilly Opelka, who is ranked No. 38 in the world.

Butler, however, is a newcomer. The basketball star jokingly admitted he took up tennis this past summer because he gets “to bluff a little bit.”

“When you watch my social, it always look like I’m scoring crazy points and always look like I’m ripped and the photos are great,” Butler said with a laugh. “If you ain’t never seen me play before, you don’t really know how good or bad I really am.”

When Butler is on the tennis court, he laces up the Blu Scarpa La Tennis shoe.

“They feel good for me. I feel like if I look good, I play well, and I’m out there styling and profiling. I feel like I look good whenever I’m wearing Blu Scarpa,” Butler said. “I’m not even worried about getting the ball over the net. I know I’m going to score, when you get too close I’m lobbing it over your head and I’m going to try to hit you with the ball while I’m dancing in my Blu Scarpas. Whenever you’re out there and you’re looking good, you’ve got no choice but to play well.”

Jimmy Butler Blu Scarpa La Tennis
Jimmy Butler playing tennis in the Blu Scarpa La Tennis shoe.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Theo Smith

Although the shoe is his go-to on a tennis court, Butler has also adopted it for off-court wear. For instance, the athlete took an off-season trip to Colombia in September to source coffee beans for BigFace while wearing the look, and Chevallard shared a shot from Butler’s travels on his personal Instagram account.

Butler said if he’s not wearing Li-Ning — the maker of his Butler 1 signature shoe — or his favorite Ugg slippers, he’s wearing Blu Scarpa.

“It works on all terrains. It’s like a four-wheel-drive type vehicle for your feet,” Butler said of Blu Scarpa. “I’m on a tennis court, then I’m hopping on a plane, then I’m out sourcing coffee, then I’m playing golf — not to mention, if I’m going out to dinner or I got a hot date or something like that. They work well in so many ways.”

Jimmy Butler Blu Scarpa La Tennis
Jimmy Butler (L) sourcing coffee beans in Colombia in Blu Scarpa.
CREDIT: Courtesy of BigFace Brand

Recently, Butler and Chevallard collaborated on a trio of Blu Scarpa sneakers. Although Butler has been spotted in the La Tennis silhouette, the collaboration utilizes the brand’s La Runner look.

The two created an all-white shoe with classic gum outsoles — which the athlete admitted was his favorite — as well as one with dark blue uppers that sit atop soles using different shades of blue and a third that’s predominantly white with two blues consuming the soles.

As of now, the collaborative shoes are exclusive to Butler. But if Butler had it his way, they wouldn’t be.

“I can’t tell Matt what to do, but I think everybody should have these,” he said.

Jimmy Butler Blu Scarpa La Runner
The three Jimmy Butler collaborative Blu Scarpa La Runner colorways.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Blu Scarpa

Whether or not these shoes come to market is still uncertain, but Chevallard is confident something between the company and Butler will eventually come to fruition.

“To me, the collaboration model has been very contrived and abused. Jimmy and I were talking about letting this stuff simmer before we do anything on an official front,” Chevallard said. “You have to properly narrate a story for collaborations to be warranted and for it to make sense. And collaboration should be much more permanent, not short-lived situations.”

Although no release or partnership is set in stone between Butler and Blu Scarpa, the baller made it clear that he is ready and willing to help his friend’s company flourish however he can.

“I told Matt I want to help release one, two, three pairs of shoes per year with him. I just want to have some input on it,” Butler said. “I want to talk and tell him what I think looks great and see if he can bring it to life. I know he’s going to love the idea, I know he’s going to try to make it happen. That’s my guy and I want to see him shine forever.”

Access exclusive content