Space Jam 2: An analysis of the best kicks for the Tune Squad

Space Jam 2: An analysis of the best kicks for the Tune Squad

After years of rumors and gossip Warner Brothers announced that Space Jam 2 will have a release date of July 16, 2021. The long-awaited sequel will feature LeBron James and the Looney Tunes, who teamed up with Michael Jordan over 20 years ago to defeat the Monstars in a basketball game to win their freedom from a group of aliens.

This movie may be the most important cultural moment in the past decade, and expectations will be incredibly high. There will be constant discussion about which other actors will sign on and which NBA players will make guest appearances (My money is on the Banana Boat Crew of D-Wade, Carmelo, and Chris Paul). However, the crucial piece of this movie, and the thing director Terrence Nance must absolutely nail, is the Looney Tunes. Their voices, facial expressions, and actions need to be perfect. One other important piece to consider what footwear is the Tunes will be rocking, because there will almost certainly be another basketball game with incredibly high stakes. After rewatching Space Jam (Bill Murray still kills it), I focused on what shoes the Looney Tunes, specifically the starters, would lace up.

In what might be the defining game of his career, MJ, who also served as coach of the Tune Squad, decided to start Bugs Bunny at point guard (PG), Lola Bunny at small forward (SF), Daffy Duck at power forward (PF), and the Tasmanian Devil at center (C). I’m assuming LeBron is going to start alongside the same four, which is going to bump Lola to SG and Daffy to SF. Hopefully some of the bench has spent time in the G-League refining and adding elements to their game. Specifically, Foghorn Leghorn and Road Runner are going to be crucial rotation players that LeBron can throw out there to give the defense a different look. Alright, let’s get into it.

Bugs Bunny (PG) – Kyrie 5

This is an easy one. Both Kyrie and Bugs are crafty individuals. Kyrie has an endless supply of tricks that he dips into around the basket, including head-fakes, ball-fakes, shoulder-fakes – all designed to make defenders look silly. Bugs is also a master of deception. Whether its tricking Elmer Fudd into shooting Daffy, getting Yosemite Sam to walk off a cliff, or planting dynamite behind Wile E. Coyote, Bugs has leveraged his quick-thinking and extraordinary deception skills to stay alive.

Both players put their bodies on the line and do an excellent job of taking care of them. Kyrie is constantly getting hit as he twists and turns in the lane, and Bugs is constantly around hazards like dynamite and falling boulders. Kyrie has transitioned to a vegan diet, which he credits to improving his health and improving his energy. And Bugs only eats carrots, so you know his vision is off the charts.

If you put Bugs in a pair of Kyrie 5s, it’s sure to help him elevate his game. The wrapped outsole should give him the traction he needs to attack the paint and either finish or kick to an open shooter. The Air Zoom Turbo cushioning will keep Bugs feeling fresh all game long.

Daffy Duck (SF) – Harden 3

While at first glance this may seem like an odd pairing, Daffy and Harden have a lot in common. Both are underrated comedians.

Harden is better than Chris Paul in those State Farm commercials, giving top-class facial expressions that make us wonder whether the disinterested/disgusted attitude is an act, or if he really doesn’t care about his insurance setup. Meanwhile, Daffy’s comedy credentials are unimpeachable. He is the gold standard of comedic partners, committing to every bit with unmatched energy.

Both have incredible self-confidence. Look at the shots Harden takes. Oh, that’s his seventh step-back three from 30 feet? Does anyone realize how ridiculous that is? I won’t even attempt a step-back three in open gym. Daffy, on the other hand, genuinely believes he is the funniest, smartest person (duck?) ever. He is a constant schemer. He constantly devises new plans to get Fudd to go after Bugs or ways to torment Porky. There is also no one who laughs harder at Daffy’s jokes and pranks than Daffy himself.

If Daffy laces up the Harden 3, he’s going to get the benefit of responsive Boost cushioning, and of the leather upper which helps support quick changes in direction.

Tasmanian Devil (C) – Jordan WHY NOT 0.2

This was another easy one. I bet you Russell Westbrook watched Tasmanian Devil highlights on loop as a kid. There is no one who plays harder or with more energy in the league than Westbrook, and there is no one who can destroy a jungle faster or put as much effort into eating Bugs or Daffy as Taz.

Both are incredible players who rely on their physical gifts to make plays that are inconceivable to most people. Taz literally spins in a circle to move faster, and Westbrook spins to avoid defenders. While they love their jobs, but both have interests outside of work, particularly fashion. Westbrook can be regularly seen showing up to games sporting a style that makes people audibly go “oh!” Taz is a gigantic fan of other people’s fashion. For example, when Bugs Bunny dresses up as a female Tasmanian Devil no one appreciates it more than Taz.  

Taz is going to need a shoe that holds up to his style of play, and that’s why we put him in the WHY NOT 0.2. The midfoot saddle is going to make sure Taz’s feet stay secure as he spins down the court. The aggressive traction pattern will help prevent Taz from slipping at any crucial moments.

Lola Bunny (SG) – KD 11

If Lola wasn’t a bunny, I’d swear her and Durant were related. They both are incredible basketball players. Durant is a seven-foot scorer who can get his shot off over everyone and is an absolute menace on defense. Lola is a skilled, all-around player too. She can space the floor with her shooting, attack closeouts, and be the focal point of the offense when LeBron needs a breather.

Lola and KD are both talkers, too. KD is one of the more quotable athletes in press conferences and post-game interviews. He also has done multiple podcasts covering a wide range of topics and recently did a lengthy interview with ESPN centered around his business interests outside of basketball. Lola doesn’t have the same national presence as Durant, but that doesn’t stop her from talking. Whether it’s on the phone or in person she is always talking to someone, usually Bugs, and usually trying to convince him to take her on a date. I bet if Lola and KD became friends they could talk for hours nonstop.

Lola would also benefit from playing in some KD 12s. The combination of Nike React foam and Nike Zoom Air would keep her bouncing around all game long. Plus, the Flyknit material wrapping her foot would keep her light on her feet.

Hopefully in Space Jam 2 LeBron has a little bit more time to get his team prepared than MJ did. Giving him a week of practice will allow him to craft an offense style and a defensive scheme as well as get his team all the gear they need. If I could offer a recommendation to him it would be to check out Eastbay.com for everything his team needs. Also, you should slide over to Eastbay and check out our huge selection of apparel and shoes. 00

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Playing Basketball with the Apex Legends

Playing Basketball with the Apex Legends

With the release of Apex Legends there is now a new contender in the battle royale market to clash with PUBG and Fortnite. While the concept is obviously similar to other battle royale games, the big difference is players get to select one of eight characters to use. Each character is unique in the way they look and the powers they have.

Since I think about everything in terms of basketball and shoes, I took an in-depth look at each character, and using a top-secret scientific method determined which shoe each character would wear during a pickup game.

Gibraltar – LeBron 16’s

Once Zion Williamson enters the league and gets his own signature shoe Gibraltar will definitely be switching over, but for now he needs a shoe that can handle his build and power. He’s the type of pickup player who isn’t necessarily better than you at basketball, but he’s so big and strong that it’s pretty impossible to stop him. That’s why he’s definitely rocking the Lebron 16’s in a game. It’s important he has an excellent cushioning system to absorb all his weight when he lands after posterizing your shooting guard on an alley-oop. With combined Max and Zoom Air cushioning, the 16’s will make sure to take the strain off Gibraltar’s feet and legs. He’s also going to need an excellent support system, because if his ankle leans any type of way, that could easily lead to a sprain. With BattleKnit 2.0 and an external heel counter, the 16 is going to give the big fella all the support and stability he needs.

Gilbraltar Shoes

Bangalore – Harden 3’s

Bangalore has one job: shoot. And let me tell you, shooters gonna shoot. She is the focal point when you lead an offensive attack, and no matter how fast she may be going she is always under control. No doubt she is lacing up the Harden 3’s. Everyone on Bangalore’s team understands that their job is to stand behind the arc and let her go to work. She may kick the ball out to an open shooter, but no defender is really expecting a pass. Thanks to the Harden’s leather upper Bangalore’s able to change directions in the blink of eye while still feeling locked in, and the herringbone outsole ensures no slip-ups as she stops and starts on a dime. You may love playing with her, you may not, but there is no denying her greatness or her impact on the game.

Bangalore Shoes

Mirage – Kyrie 5’s

Mirage is all about confusion. The team of decoys he can deploy as his ultimate or the holographic decoy as his tactical are all designed to make you look like a fool as you light up the wrong person. Mirage is the ultimate trickster. When you’re matching up on defense before the game, he’s the one you are desperately trying to avoid guarding. Then, however, your teammates look at you and say, “You should probably take him,” and you mutter some choice words under your breath. You know he is going to embarrass you at some point with his handles, either by crossing you for easy baskets or sitting you down on a step-back. That’s why Mirage was made to wear the Kyrie 5’s. The curved outsole aligning with the new Air Zoom Turbo keeps him upright and cushioned as he attacks from every angle, and the mesh upper keeps the shoe flexible and supportive so no matter where Mirage is on the floor, he is comfortable.

Mirage Shoes

Lifeline – Curry 6’s

Everyone loves playing with a character like Lifeline. She’s the ultimate teammate. She makes the right pass almost every time, and the way she moves without the ball opens up scoring opportunities for other players. Lifeline may take the occasional heat check shot, but you allow it because she always taps her chest and says, “My bad.” She will follow up every bad shot by competing harder on defense, which you appreciate. Lifeline also definitely plays exclusively in long sleeves, and is for sure running in some Curry 6’s. The full knit upper keeps the shoe breathable while also providing a compression feel so that Lifeline can ball in comfort and stay focused on making the right play every time. The HOVR cushioning system gives that zero-gravity sensation so that it really feels like Lifeline is gliding through the defense and around screens.

Lifeline Shoes

Bloodhound – PG 3’s

If Bloodhound is on your team then you are feeling good. If he’s on the other team, and he’s picked you up on defense then you are definitely annoyed. He is going to ask about, and then be confused by the score every five minutes. He’s going to face guard you all game even though you aren’t good enough to earn that treatment. It’s also pointless to even try and take Bloodhound off the dribble because he’s going to be in your airspace step for step. By that point, you’re working so hard on offense that your defense slips, and he’s going to start stroking threes from deep in a nice pair of PG 3’s. The shoe’s outsole pattern was inspired by moon craters and keeps incredible traction in all directions. The padded collar keeps Bloodhound comfortable without sacrificing agility, so he can grind all game long, and slither his way through thickets of screens into an open three.

Bloodhound Shoes

Wraith – Jordan WHY NOT 0.2

Sometimes you have to ask Wraith whether she understands that this is a pick-up game and not Game 7 of the Finals. She is full-throttle all the time, moving like a lightening bolt around the court so you think she is in one place one moment, but then you turn and realize she’s on the other end of the court. Wraith is definitely a gunner on offense, but you respect it because she’s playing so hard and can make some incredible passes to set you up for easy buckets. She is most definitely a talker on defense and has the most coordinated outfit in the gym all the way down to her WHY NOT 0.2’s. Zoom Air cushioning gives the responsiveness that allows her to explode off of every step while staying lightweight. The only reason Wraith doesn’t run out of her shoes is the midfoot saddle that helps keep her locked in, ready to move in an instant.

Wraith Shoes

Pathfinder – Dame 5’s

You know who is just happy to be out on the court balling with his friends? Pathfinder. Sure, he wants to win, but he also recognizes that there are more important things in life than basketball. So, he is going to pull from deep, throw some fancy passes, and apologize to the other team when he fouls someone. He’s also going to make you laugh unintentionally with some self-deprecating humor. He loves the Dame 5’s because they are one of the few low-tops available. Plus, Bounce cushioning helps keep Pathfinder comfortable and light on his feet, and the herringbone pattern on the outsole ensures excellent traction.

Pathfinder Shoes

Caustic – Kobe A.D.

Caustic is the 50-year-old man at the gym running 5s with a bunch of 20 somethings. He’s constantly complaining that no one is trying hard enough on defense and is wondering why on Earth everyone is taking so many gosh darn threes. He is a constant talker, calling out screens, switches, and on offense he yells for you to swing the ball a half second after you get it. However, he will pull out some nifty moves leveraging his patience and pump fake to get you off balance so he can get a clean look at the basket. He is also 5000% wearing the newest Kobe’s. The Zoom Air heel unit provides responsive cushioning, allowing him to try and keep pace with the young guns. The cord lacing system and synthetic bootie keep his feet secure, lowering the chance of him turning an ankle.

Caustic Shoes

Chances are you’ve encountered these types of people both on and off the court, and you probably even have some of these tendencies (I, for one, am a Pathfinder). Let us know which one of these types of players you think you are, and any of your other thoughts on the list. 

A Look Back – ’90s NBA All-Stars

A Look Back – ’90s NBA All-Stars

One of the most exciting parts of the NBA season is always the All-Star Weekend. Growing up in the ‘90s, I looked forward to the Slam Dunk Contest, the 3-Point Contest, and, of course, the main event itself. Through the years, Eastbay made sure to spotlight the League’s greatest stars in their monthly catalogs. I remember flipping through the pages and reading bios about players I idolized like Allen Iverson, Penny Hardaway, and Michael Jordan. The bios were placed next to the sneakers the stars were wearing (or at least supposed to be wearing). It was cool to learn, fun interesting facts about the players I watched on TV so often. Today, Eastbay still makes sure top athletes are front and center in their monthly catalogs.

With that in mind, take a look back at some of the biggest NBA stars of the ‘90s and check out some of the fun facts Eastbay used to share about them.

Penny Hardaway

Penny was an All-Star for four straight years, from 1995 through 1998. This particular image of the Orlando star was featured in the August ’96 Eastbay issue. To his right was the Nike Air Zoom Flight, which he wore during his time on the U.S. Men’s Basketball Team that year. This bio was full of interesting facts about Penny, including the story about him being shot in the right foot as a kid in 1991. Note the strategically placed Swoosh and basketball covering his two shoes so you couldn’t see what he was wearing.

Penny Hardaway

Allen Iverson

The 11-time All-Star got a lot of love in those ‘90s Eastbays – so much love that they couldn’t even keep his first few sneakers in stock long enough to print them in the catalogs. As a result, Eastbay would publish bios of Bubba Chuck next to other Reebok sneakers. In this photo, AI is rocking The Answer DMX sneaker, but pictured below is the Reebok Ragin II.

Allen Iverson

 

Shawn Kemp

The Reign Man was an All-Star for six straight seasons, from 1993 through 1998. In this September ’96 issue, Kemp is shown next to the Reebok Icepick Mid – he wore the all-white version in the NBA Finals versus the Bulls that year. Kemp and teammate Gary Payton were two of the most beloved SuperSonics players of all time, and many sneakerheads still reminisce about their glory days in Seattle.

Shawn Kemp

Michael Jordan

They call MJ the GOAT for a reason – he was a 14-time All-Star among his many other accolades. In this 1997 Eastbay Holiday issue, Jordan is shown next to the Air Jordan XII black/red, which most people refer to as the “Flu Game.” Jordan wore that colorway in the NBA Playoffs, and the black/white AJ XII in the ’97 All-Star Game.

Michael Jordan

Charles Barkley

On this summer ’96 Eastbay back page, Barkley is seen playing for the Phoenix Suns alongside his signature Air CB 34 Mid sneaker. This bio was great because it shared the backstory behind his jersey number choices. Did you know: Barkley chose to wear the number 10 in the 1996 All-Star Game because that was the 10th one he was selected to? Additionally, did you know that during that season, he became only the tenth player in league history to achieve career marks of 20,000 points and 10,000 rebounds?

Tim Duncan

The Big Fundamental was a 15-time All-Star and won five NBA championships with the San Antonio Spurs. He spent the first part of his career wearing Nike sneakers before switching over to adidas. In this picture, he is seen wearing the Nike Air Vis Zoom Uptempo, which, as the name suggests, featured visible Zoom Air in the heel and forefoot.

 

Drew Hammell Eastbay All-Stars

Scottie Pippen

Pippen was selected to seven All-Star Games in his career, and of course also won six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls. Scottie had a great story because, when he went to the University of Central Arkansas, he originally wasn’t even on the team. Then, when he was drafted by the Sonics with the fifth pick, they traded him to the Bulls, and the rest was history.

 

Drew Hammell Eastbay All Stars

All of these athletes were incredible in their own unique ways. Each was capable of completely taking over and dominating a game, carrying their team to victory. You can check out these players’ stories by scrolling through the carousel below, and if you need some more modern gear to ball in check out Eastbay.com.

Nolan Arenado: Statistical Superstar

Nolan Arenado: Statistical Superstar

There’s no denying baseball is changing. In today’s era, analytics and statistics are redefining the way the game is played. General managers treat scouting reports like advanced math problems, crunching numbers to gain a competitive advantage in any situation. No player’s weakness goes unnoticed. But for Eastbay’s January cover athlete, Nolan Arenado, this is no problem.

Only six seasons into his career, Arenado is on pace to be one of the top two-way players in history. The third baseman is only the second player in league history to post three or more seasons with at least 35 home runs and 130 RBIs before age 27. He’s also only one of three third basemen to win four straight Silver Slugger Awards.

Nolan Arenado hitting

Arenado’s consistency at the plate is supplemented with his spectacular play-making in the field, yielding an impressive set of accolades. He’s won a Gold Glove in each of his first six seasons and has been voted into the All-Star game for the past four years. Not to mention, his .970 career fielding percentage places him eighth all time among players at the hot corner.

So, is Arenado aware of how his numbers reflect his performance on the field? Of course he is. He even sets specific goals each year, challenging himself to improve.

“My goal is always to make 10 or fewer errors,” Arenado said. “It’s kind of hard to do and I’ve only done it once. In 2017, I made nine and that was my best fielding year.”

Nolan Arenado fielding

That type of drive is what propelled Arenado to stardom in the first place. When he first entered the majors, Arenado said scouts were doubtful he could even play third base because of size and lack of speed. But with a strong work ethic and continued confidence in his abilities, he was able to block out the doubters and prove he belonged at the top.

“When you get a report on you, it just sticks. I knew third base was something I could do and I could do it better than what I was getting credit for,” Arenado said. “Once I really took pride in my offseason work, I think that’s what changed for me.”

Arenado also knows baseball is a complicated game and to be the best, you must be a complete player. While he continues to smack homers and drive in runs with the best in the league, he still strives to be more efficient at the plate.

“It’s easy to say everyone’s goal is to hit .300 with 30-plus home runs and 100 RBIs and that’s one of my goals also,” Arenado said. “But I would really like to cut down on the strikeouts and give myself a better chance of putting the ball in play.”

Nolan Arenado looking at bat

Today, Arenado’s confidence is at an all-time high. He’s continually moved up the ranks in the National League MVP vote since 2015. Last year he placed third, behind only Christian Yelich and Javier Báez. He credits that improvement to never losing focus, even during the offseason, and advises younger players to do the same. He says that with hard work comes confidence and once that confidence is instilled, the sky’s the limit.

“Being confident is huge but you’re only going to be confident after putting in the work,” Arenado said. “Work hard so when the game starts you feel confident. You know you’re prepared for the day.”

Arenado prepares to conquer every season with the latest and greatest gear in baseball. Check out Eastbay’s full selection of top products for on and off the diamond.

Nolan Arenado focus on glove

The Golden Generation

The Golden Generation

Diana Taurasi is the all-time leader in points scored, Sue Bird in assists. Their careers have been defined by the sustained greatness they play with in every season. They’ve won every type of award and championship the league and world has to offer. Now though, as they enter the twilights of their career leaving the game they each love so much is closer than ever before. The question of legacy is now more pressing than ever. Even the younger stars such as Elena Delle Donne, Breanna Stewart, and Jewell Loyd have thought about the impact they would like to leave on the game when they hang it up.

For Bird, winning is the most important thing, “I think when it’s said and done I want to be known as a winner. I really don’t care about anything else. I want to be somebody that teammates spoke highly of, who they looked at as somebody who helped them play their best and ultimately we won.”

Sue Bird Half Body Shot

The young guns are trying to focus on their impact outside of basketball as well. About her legacy Loyd said, “I want people to look at me and know it’s bigger than just basketball. I’m not here to just score or defend, I’m here to be the voice for other people and let them see there’s something more than just a scorer on the court. I’m trying to help as many people as I can. If you look at me, just know I’m not all about basketball, I’m here to help and encourage people.”

Jewell Half Body Shot

Stewart may have said it best, “When my basketball career is all said and done, the impact I want to have is someone who is a competitor, but also who touched a lot of lives on and off the court and who made people better.”

Breanna Half Body Shot

Other players want to help promote greater equality for athletes. They believe it is vital for everyone to feel they have a place in sports in order to grow participation and increase the sense of community sports create.

Delle Donne said, “If I can somehow change that gap of equality in sports between men and women, if I can leave that legacy, make it far better than when I came in, then that will be way bigger than any championship or statistics.” This desire for their impact to transcend what they do on the court will ultimately draw even more people to the league.

This forward thinking approach is necessary for the long-term success of the league, but there are also present-day issues that need to be addressed. The exposure the league has received in the past couple seasons has been massively important. More fans are making their way to the arenas and more games are being shown on ESPN. However, there is still work to be done.
Delle Donne said, “Seeing us on billboards, being able to watch our games, being able to order your favorite player’s jerseys with ease. There’s a lot that has been done, but there’s a big way to go.”

Elena Half Body Shot

A bigger spotlight helps dispel negative perceptions about their league which is critical to continued growth.

“I find a lot of people who have negative thoughts about our league haven’t even been to a game. It’s kind of what has been spewed around and I think the more we do to change that the better it will be in the long run,” said Bird.

Loyd concurred, “Just trying to get more visibility to the sport is a work in progress. It’s hard for me to find a person who’s come to games and says they don’t love or enjoy the game. Everyone who has ever come has said, ‘It’s my first time coming to a game and I’ve never been, but I love it!”

While it is imperative the league and players continue to work together to grow the game Taurasi believes the league is in a more stable place these days, “I think the future is very bright. With so many great players and faces and personalities, the game is trending upward and that’s what we need to do – we need to make sure that the product on the court gets better every year and I think you see that happening.”

Diana Half Body Shot