Under Armour is a brand that I have come to look forward to their sneaker releases especially for multiple reasons. Since they are still growing their basketball division, there are much less sneaker silhouettes released than seen at the competitor brands and that isn’t a bad thing. In their second real year in this market, Under Armour learned a lot of necessary lessons about the basketball sneaker business in the name of growing pains and its good to see that the brand has just chalked it up to the game and bounced back.
All the steam that was built during the NBA lockout for the Juke and especially the Bloodline was lost very early in the year when both sneakers had pairs removed from all store shelves around the country with no forewarning. Even on the UA.com webstore, once certain Bloodline colorways were sold out they were not restocked leaving only three color options while the Juke just disappeared completely. An unanticipated thing happened with Under Armour this year, and that came in the form of liquidated sneakers. Towards the end of 2012, at clearance retailers like Marshalls and Ross there were full size runs available of previous Brandon Jennings signature sneakers like the Black Ice and Bloodline. Not only was this the last chance to get your hands on a pair of the Micro G-clad sneakers, but most stores around the country stocked unreleased TB versions, or Player Exclusives, that never hit store shelves in the first place. This provided the perfect hunting ground for sneaker connoisseurs looking for Under Armour sneakers and really added an extra level of excitement. I vividly remember making unrelated trips from New Jersey to Florida and stopping at any Marshalls I could find and picking up Bloodline pairs for $40 a piece that wouldn’t be accessible to anyone not playing on a Under Armour-sponsored team somewhere.
If the latest round of Under Armour Basketball sneakers proves anything, it is that the brand has reaffirmed their focus on the basketball division. Right now, Under Armour is protecting their house with sneakers like the Charge BB, Spine Bionic, and Torch but is scheduled to prove those three with an onslaught of releases in 2013 with new silhouettes like the Spine Predator, Ion, and Attack. Making a very early prediction, I am taking a stake in the Anatomix Spawn sneaker to be the highlight model of the new year. Now that Under Armour has their first few basketball sneaker seasons under their belt, it is a little easier for those who pay attention to the company to predict their moves. One pattern that has emerged is that Player Exclusives will be low top versions of the current sneakers as seen currently with the Spine Bionic Low being strictly available to NBA players and the Torch Low being seen on both NBA and NCAA talent. When it comes to originality in their products, Under Armour is definitely the clear winner of 2012 by unanimous decision but I hope that the brand doesn’t start putting aesthetics before performance.
The reason I have stood by the brand the way that I do is due to the way they perform on both the hardwood and the blacktop. Making quality and relatively inexpensive basketball sneakers should make them the “people’s champion” by default, but the lack of exposure makes it an uphill battle against the other major footwear brands. Many would say that there needs to be a current All-Star to be the face of the brand, but I feel that it would be make for a much better story to watch one of their current endorsers grow into a better player as Under Armour becomes more of a prominent force in the basketball world.
Under Armour Basketball Kourt Kicks Champion of 2012: Greivis Vasquez
It was hard to choose a Kourt Kicks Champion of the year for Under Armour since there aren’t that many silhouettes out, but Under Armour has become known for their Player Exclusives which their players receive no short amount of. Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Bobcats was very close with all the Spine Bionic Lows he’s been seen in so far this NBA season and newcomer Will Barton made waves by being the first NBA player to rock the Charge BB, but the best Under Armour sneakers worn in 2012 goes to Greivis Vasquez. Being a University of Maryland alum, Vasquez became accustom to Player Exclusive pairs of Under Armour sneakers so it was only right that when he made the transition to the NBA that he stayed true to his collegiate footwear roots. Pictured below are a few examples of the PE sneakers Vasquez received in the past year; many of which borrow design cues from his national flag of Venezuela.
Under Armour Bloodline – Grievis Vasquez PE’
Under Armour Spine Bionic Low PE
Under Armour Bloodline – ‘Grievis Vasquez PE’
Under Armour Torch Low PE
Under Armour Spine Bionic – ‘Grievis Vasquez PE’
Ben Berry is a writer based out of Orlando, FL by way of Baltimore, MD by way of New York City that grew up in New Jersey. After attending West Virginia University, Ben became involved with The Hoop Doctors and was made editor of the Kicks column. Add Ben to a Google+ circle of yours and follow his Twitter feed. Follow our Kicks section on Twitter: @THDKicks