Trust the Process: An Inside Look at Joel Embiid’s First Signature Shoe

Trust the Process: An Inside Look at Joel Embiid’s First Signature Shoe

With a well-deserved reputation as having one of the loudest, most intense fanbases, Philly is not the easiest city to play for. Yet, one player has not only become beloved there, he’s become an adopted son of sorts, an embodiment of who Philly is as a city and the face of one of the most iconic franchises in basketball.

Joel Embiid was drafted third overall by Philadelphia after a promising freshman season at Kansas. Originally from Yaounde, Cameroon, Embiid went from not picking up a basketball until he was 15 to being declared the savior to a major franchise. For Embiid, it had been one hell of a journey. He was discovered at a basketball camp by fellow Yaounde native and NBA vet Luc Mbah a Moute, and with him as his mentor Embiid moved to America at 16 to pursue a basketball dream. As a senior in high school, Embiid was one of the top recruits in the country and would lead his team to a state title before heading off to Lawrence, Kansas to play for Bill Self. That season, Embiid was one of 30 finalists for the Player of the Year award.

After the draft, there was a ton of hype surrounding Embiid, and Philly fans were salivating at seeing him take the court. Unfortunately, Embiid’s career got off to a brutal start as he struggled with injury after injury. Questions began to swirl about whether he would ever play a game in the NBA. Throughout it all, Embiid remained focused on his rehab, saying, “You can’t just sit back and hope for the best. You have to put in the work every single day. You just have to trust the process and make sure you’re working hard because it will pay off.”

When Embiid finally took the court in his third season, he quickly became a force that opposing teams were ill-equipped to handle. In a league that has gradually become more perimeter-oriented with a major emphasis on outside shooting, Embiid was dominating the paint and feasting night in and night out. Despite only playing 31 games, Embiid finished second in Rookie of the Year voting and quickly established himself as a fan favorite in Philly.

Embiid said, “I love the fans – we have a special relationship. One minute they might cheer for you and the next minute they might boo you. That just shows you they care. I’d rather play there then for another city where fans just come to the game for entertainment. I want people to care because it pushes me to be better.”

Embiid has paired his immense physical gifts with a burning desire to be one of the greatest to ever play. Now entering his sixth season, he has made clear his goals to win an MVP and bring a title to Philly. To help achieve those goals Embiid has partnered with Under Armour for his first signature shoe, the UA Embiid One. Together with designer Reggie Wilson, they have designed a shoe that isn’t just for big men but for all players.

Before even sitting down with Joel to discuss the shoe, Wilson was busy seeking out inspiration by looking at Embiid’s home country of Cameroon and studying some famous monuments and landmarks from there. He really dug into Embiid’s journey to the league and was inspired by what he learned.

One of the unique aspects of the shoe is that it tells Embiid’s story chronologically through the shoe’s colorways. Wilson is pumped to show off some of the key details in the shoe saying, “His family is really important to him, so we molded his family’s names into the backside of the TPU wing.” Wilson also noted that he loves how the outsole turned out and that people should really look for some of those smaller storytelling elements embedded in the shoe.

From a technical aspect for the shoe, there are a few things Wilson is really excited about. The first thing is the breathability of the shoe. Wilson learned from a Philadelphia trainer that Embiid’s feet would get incredibly hot during games. It became so bad that Embiid would have to take his shoes off when he was on the bench to give his feet some fresh air. “Some of the shoes he was wearing were so bulky, so many layers, and that was one of the things we wanted to avoid. We wanted to make this as breathable as possible but still strong enough for him,” said Wilson. By constructing the upper with mesh layers Wilson was able to ensure that heat was able to escape and fresh air could flow through the shoe.

Cushioning is where a shoe really makes its mark, and the UA Embiid One is certainly not lacking in that department. It’s built with HOVR technology, Under Armour’s patented cushioning tech, that provides some of the best, most efficient energy return in the game. Sitting under the heel of the foot is Micro-G cushioning to add additional cushioning.

During the design process Embiid and Wilson worked closely together to figure out the cut of the shoe. Eschewing the typical high-cut that has become common with basketball shoes they decided to go with a mid-cut, which better matched Embiid’s style of play. The cut really speaks to the versatility of shoe. Guards and wing players get the freedom they need to drive hard to the basket and big men the support they need to dominate down low.

Both Embiid and Wilson are thrilled with how the shoe turned out and can’t wait for it to become available.

About the shoe, Embiid said, “It was great working with them and I’m happy with the end result, and I think it’s going to be exciting when it comes out.”

The Embiid One will be available exclusively at eastbay.com on September 18, two weeks before any other retailer. When you purchase a pair you will also receiver a free poster with your order.

SPEED REIGNS SUPREME

SPEED REIGNS SUPREME

Take I-95 north from Miami for about 30 minutes and you’ll come across a sign for Hollywood, Florida. Located in Broward County, the heart of South Florida, Hollywood is a football town in the heart of football country. Over the years some of the league’s best have come from this area. Lamar Jackson, T.Y. Hilton, and Antonio Brown are just a couple of the players that have made their way to the top. Now there is a new rising star looking to make a name for himself, and prove he is the next great deep threat. It’s time for Marquise Brown to show what he is capable of.

When it comes to football in South Florida, playing is less an option, and more an expectation. Brown began playing when he was 6 and quickly realized what football meant to his neighborhood.

“You’re not just playing for yourself, you’re also playing for your family and the community that you come from. As you grow older and move through college and the pros, you still have a bond with guys from the same area as you. Everyone is competing and wants to be the best, but you also like to see other guys from your area be successful.”

When Brown first began playing football, he was primarily a running back. Then when he turned 11 his coaches switched him to slot receiver. That was when Brown realized he had one undeniable attribute that no one else had – He was fast as hell.

“I would score on about 90% of the jet sweeps they called, and I realized I was faster than anyone who was trying to tackle me.”

The nickname “Jet” was born.

That speed would become Brown’s calling card as he made his way through high school, starring on the football field where he would run the 100-meter dash in 11.03. No one could catch him. If Brown got in the open field, it was easier if the defense simply started walking toward the sideline rather than try and run him down.

Despite his world-class speed and productive high school career, Brown was not offered a single D-1 scholarship. He chose to attend the College of the Canyons, a junior college in California.

His coaches there had seen his speed on tape, but witnessing it up close was an entirely different experience.

Ted Iacenda, his coach at College of the Canyons said, “He has a gear that maybe five or six human beings in the world have right now. There’s fast, there’s world-class fast. And that is Marquise Brown.”

Brown racked up 50 catches for 754 yards and 10 touchdowns that season. Suddenly, the kid from Hollywood, FL, who had minimal D-1 interest out of high school, was getting looks from powerhouse schools like USC, WVU, and Oklahoma.

Brown chose to head to Norman, Oklahoma, where, during his two years, he caught passes from Heisman winners Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. He became a highlight machine, regularly catching 40-, 50-, 60-yard touchdown passes. Every time he lined up, the entire defense was forced to shift to account for that speed. It was after a big game against Kansas State that announcer Gus Johnson learned Marquise was from Hollywood, Florida. Two games later, in a barn burner at Stillwater, Brown streaked down the sideline and hauled in a 77-yard touchdown as Johnson howled “Hollywooooooooood!!!”

Despite having more speed than anyone on the field, Brown has learned that the most important thing is learning when to use it. Getting open at the college and professional level is more about gaining leverage and manipulating defensive backs rather than running by them.

Brown said, “It’s not always about being the fastest, it’s also having your body under control and learning when to turn it on.”

“Sometimes I’ll only be running 70% down the field and let the DB stay with me and save the extra gear for when I need to create separation and go make a play.”

As Brown enters his second season, he’s looking to build on a productive rookie year where he had 46 catches for 584 yards and seven touchdowns. After offseason surgery to remove a screw from his foot, Brown will be fully healthy and ready to help Baltimore take the next step. With offseason team activities halted due to COVID-19, players around the league have stepped up individual workouts to get ready for the season.

Brown said, “I’m always working on getting stronger, route running, and speed. I’m making sure I’m 100% healthy when they let us back on the field and I’ve been watching a lot of film. Can’t divulge too many secrets right now, but I’m working hard to have a big second year.”

It’s no surprise that when Brown takes the field this season, he will be lacing up the adidas ADIZERO cleats. Since their initial release ten years ago, the ADIZERO has been associated with one thing: speed. Designed to keep you flying all over the field, it’s the lightest cleat in football, weighing in at 9.1 ounces.

The ADIZERO is built for more than just speed. It’s built for comfort too. The mesh upper with a TPU overlay allows air to flow through the cleat as you race up and down the field and keeps your feet cool and comfortable all game long.

A Sprintframe plate and Sprintstuds help support Brown when he makes those quick cuts on slant and dig routes by providing consistent, reliable traction and giving him a responsive feel, so he’s in control at all times.

You can find the ADIZERO at eastbay.com as well as plenty of other gear to help you train in the offseason and thrive on gameday.

UPDATES & CORRECTIONS

In this month’s catalog featuring Marquise “Hollywood” Brown there are two mistakes in the inside story. We stated that Marquise received the nickname “Hollywood” in his junior year. He actually received it his sophomore year at Oklahoma. The second error is an infographic showing off Marquise Brown’s speed in miles-per-hour. That should have been replaced with the one below.

Athlete Spotlight: Nick Collins

Athlete Spotlight: Nick Collins

words // Jordan Hagedorn

For most kids growing up, they dream of a chance to play pro sports.  Much is the same for Green Bay Packers’ safety Nick Collins, but he apparently dreamed much bigger.  Growing up watching pro football, he told his family, “One day I’m going to be out there playing in the Super Bowl and I’m gonna contribute and do something very special.” Turns out he may have seen the future back then, as what he said came true back in February.

After losing a tough game to the Patriots 31-27 on December 19th, the Packers needed to win their final two games against the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears. On the day after Christmas, Collins had a 4th-quarter interception against the Giants in a convincing 45-17 victory.  In the regular-season finale — a must-win game against the NFC North rival Bears, Collins picked off Jay Cutler late in the game to seal a 10-3 playoff-clinching win.

Entering the playoffs as the NFC’s sixth seed, the Packers would go on a run that only the players and die-hard Packer fans could have imagined. They began their improbable run against Michael Vick and the third-seeded Philadelphia Eagles, winning by five points in the wild card round.  In the divisional round, they put a 27-point beat down on the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons.  They then defeated the NFC North Division Champion Bears by a touchdown, to advance to the Super Bowl, where they would play the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After the Packers jumped out to 7-0 lead, the Steelers got the ball with 3:34 left in the opening quarter. Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger dropped back, was hit and threw a pass short. Collins stepped in front of WR Mike Wallace and picked it off. He proceeded to return it 37 yards for a touchdown causing Packer fans to go crazy. After scoring, he ran to the middle of the field, dropped to his knees and outstretched his arms making for one of the most memorable images from Super Bowl XLV.

The Packers went ahead 21-3, but the Steelers battled back, cutting the lead to 21-17 in the third quarter.  The Pack held on late in the fourth quarter to defeat the Steelers 31-25 thus returning the Lombardi Trophy back to Titletown.  Having never trailed the entire Super Bowl and never being behind by more than seven points all year, it turned out to be a remarkable season. And at the forefront of the win was one of the defensive leaders, #36, Nick Collins.

It was a dream come true for him.  A few days after receiving his Super Bowl ring, Collins told me: “It’s unreal. I received the box and I was like, “Wow, we are the World Champions.” And that’s something I’m going to have for the rest of my life and no one can take that away. It’s been a great ride, a great accomplishment and hopefully we can have many more to come.”

In this day and age where pro athletes all have different career paths, Nick’s journey from childhood to World Champion has been a great one. In high school, he played quarterback, running back and defensive back along with being a hoops point guard and hardball centerfielder. When he first got to college, they had him playing linebacker. All of that proves that “Nick the Pick” is an extremely versatile, adaptable athlete.

Late in his first year at Bethune-Cookman, Collins finally switched over to free safety and everything started to click. He went on to have a brilliant college career and was drafted by the Packers in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft.

Since then, he has fit in nicely with the Packers, contributing every year and always improving. In 2008 he returned three picks for scores, becoming the first safety to do so since 1986.  Collins has only missed three games in his career due to injury, making him one of the most durable and dependable players on the Packers’ roster. Last year he was named to his third consecutive Pro Bowl.  This made him the first Packers’ safety to accomplish that feat since Packer legend LeRoy Butler did so from 1996-1998.

When I talked to him at his football camp earlier this summer, it became clear why he’s had so much success. He is a humble, down to earth guy that loves to laugh. He has a good head on his shoulders and just gets the job done. He is extremely generous with his time and is a great role model to kids. He is a sneaker collector but said he usually only wears shoes a couple times then he gives them away to less fortunate kids. When asked what advice he has for kids he said, “First of all make sure to do the right thing in the classroom. Show a lot of respect to others and just be determined. Know what your purpose is. Have a plan and goal then it’s up to you to go achieve that. If you just stick to those things, the sky is the limit for you. You always have to stay positive. If you’re able to wake up in the morning and look yourself in the mirror with a smile on your face, that means you’re going to have a successful day.”

To continue to inspire the youth he has started the Nick Collins Jumpstart Foundation.

You can follow him on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/nickthepick36

Also, keep an eye out for #36 on the field this year as he looks to help the Pack repeat!

Athlete Spotlight: Tramon Williams

As an integral part of the team that brought the Lombardi trophy back to Green Bay, the past year has been a whirlwind of excitement for World Champion Cornerback, Tramon Williams. It’s no secret that Williams’ journey to success was slow, bumpy and nothing short of remarkable. Despite being one of the most respected, hard-working and athletic players on the field, his talents were overlooked countless times, forcing him to walk on in college and not be selected in the NFL draft. For most players, this would have been the end of the line, but for Williams, these obstacles only gave him more drive to succeed, and it’s easy to see that his hard work and persistence has paid off.

So, what does a man like Tramon Williams do in his off-time? When he’s not helping out with charity events or spending time with his wife and son, Williams can be found watching movies or playing video games (most notably Transformers and Call of Duty). And while many have witnessed his talents and unique style on the field, they might be surprised to know that Williams has an amazing eye for style off the field, too. (His shoe collection takes up most of his wife’s closet space!) He describes his style as semi-preppy and relaxed but totally unique. He’s a huge fan of brands like LRG, Ecko Unltd., Timberland, Enyce, Jordan, New Era and Eastbay, of course. He bought his first pair of shoes from Eastbay at age 12, and his first casual clothing purchase came soon after.

Athlete Spotlight: Austen Lane

words // Austen Lane

If you ever drive through my hometown of Iola, WI, you’ll notice a few things: there aren’t any stoplights, there are no fast food restaurants, and it only takes about 3 minutes get through the whole town.  So how does a kid who had only 250-something students in his whole high school make it to the NFL?

Ever since I scored my first touchdown in third grade, I loved the game of football. I knew I wanted to play it as long as possible, but I didn’t have an end goal in mind.  During my high school years, I had a dream of getting a full ride and playing football at the collegiate level.  Although I had a very productive high school career, the Division I colleges weren’t giving me any respect because I supposedly didn’t “play against good competition.”  This gave me a chip on my shoulder to prove people wrong — a chip that I still have to this day. It seemed like my dream was lost until a week before signing period, when Murray State University offered me a full scholarship.  With that being my only full ride offer, I took it without hesitation and ironically being the only school that wanted me to play defensive end.  My first two years were mediocre at best.  I started every game except for one, but my numbers were far from expectations.  It was my sophomore exit interview with the defensive line coach that set the path to where I am today.  My coach told me that he was disappointed in me and that he saw something in me that I had to believe in.  I took those words to heart.  It was having the burden of letting my coach down that gave me a new found fire that helped take my training to the next level.  It paid dividends during my next two seasons.

Going into my senior year, I was receiving ten different calls a night from agents and financial advisors.  This started to become overwhelming until I took a piece of my mom’s advice that proved to be one of the most important decisions I have ever made.  I turned my phone off.  She told me, “You deserve to enjoy your senior year, just have fun with your team while you can.”  I didn’t pay any attention to all the draft experts or what people were saying.  Instead, I just focused on my teammates and doing everything possible to try to win a championship.  I knew if I took care of business on the field, then the rest of the NFL distraction would be there when my season was done.  After a late Senior Bowl invite and a good Combine showing, I became the highest drafted player in Murray State history.  I was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars as the 158th pick in the fifth round.

As I write this bio, I am currently going into my second NFL season.  The purpose of me writing this wasn’t to brag of my high school or college stats, hence why I didn’t share them.  My stats didn’t get me to where I am today.  My work ethic, passion, the great people in my life, and having a little faith got me to where I am.  There is no trick or scheme, I am simply a product of my environment.  It doesn’t matter where you come from, so much as where you’re going, but once you get to where you want to go I promise you will have a new appreciation for where you came from.