When it comes to sports uniforms, few things are as iconic as basketball sneakers. Whether you’re Michael Jordan or LeBron James, sporting your own signature shoes are a clear sign that you’ve made it and belong among the best of the best. Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid is going to be joining that elite group in the fall.
While Joel Embiid will become the 17th NBA player to get his own signature sneaker, the release date is still almost a year away. In the meantime, what can we expect from the Under Armour Embiid 1?
Joel Embiid’s road to NBA stardom
While Joel Embiid is getting his own signature basketball sneakers, he started out as a volleyball player rather than a center. At age 15, though, he hit the hardwood in his native Cameroon; the teenager started emulating Hakeem Olajuwon. Before long he caught the eye of Luc Mbah a Moute, attended a Basketball Without Borders camp, and relocated to America.
After wrapping up his high school career, Embiid enrolled at the University of Kansas. While he was a force in the paint, blocking over 2.5 shots and grabbing 8.1 rebounds per game while taking home Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors, the big man’s time with the Jayhawks didn’t go smoothly. He missed the entire conference and NCAA tournament with back injury; he then declared for the NBA draft, leaving Lawrence for good.
Shortly before the 2014 draft, Embiid had surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot. The Philadelphia 76ers still selected the center third overall, but the problems didn’t go away; Embiid would miss the next two seasons with recurring foot issues. The big man made his debut in 2016, but 31 games before being sidelined with knee issues. Since then, however, he’s been both healthy and dominant, averaging more than 24 points and 11 rebounds a game for his career.
What does it mean to have a signature shoe?
While having your own signature shoe is certainly a status symbol, it affects a great deal more than a player’s reputation. The sneakers also influence each star’s on-court performance and bank account.
Signature shoes don’t just look cool; they’re designed to suit the physical needs of each specific athlete. LeBron James’ LeBron 15, for example, was built “to try to hold his foot in place and give him the protection that he needs.” For the Embiid 1, Under Armour studied the big man’s shooting form in order to create a shoe that could handle his inside-out game.
Sneakers also help the players’ bottom line, with the athlete taking home 5% royalties from each pair that’s sold.
What can we expect from Joel Embiid’s signature sneakers?
Although the general public hasn’t seen the Embiid 1 yet, we know a little bit about their look. Unsurprisingly, they’ll represent their namesake star’s road to the NBA.
“Early on in the design process, Joel shared that he thought his life was like a movie, and like movies, all basketball careers have origin stories,” Under Armour designer Reggie Wilson explained. “Since Joel’s story began in Cameroon, that was the creative focus of our first colorway, ‘Origin.” The shoes will reportedly feature the outline of Africa on the heel, making Embiid’s home continent “the first point of contact for anyone wearing it.”
“As a kid, I never could have dreamed of being in this situation with my own signature shoe,” Embiid said. “The process has been incredible with the work that’s been put in. Not a lot of guys in my profession get this opportunity, and I’m truly grateful for it.”