To celebrate Foot Locker’s Mark of Greatness, over the next month NBA.com is exploring the backstories of iconic basketball players, their journey to having their own signature sneakers and the stories and inspiration behind their designs.
Today, it’s Russell Westbrook
An explosive drive to the rim.
A jetpack fueled dunk.
A blur in transition.
A screaming roar to the crowd.
Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook’s dynamic style of play is if anything…loud.
He has electified NBA crowds for over a decade with his highlight-infused game and intensity that is unmatched by anyone in the league. Averaging a triple-double in four seasons, he made the extraordinary look pedestrian on and off the court, turning the pregame tunnel into a runway exuding high fashion and personality; Westbrook was one of the main drivers of that individual expression in the modern era.
And his wardrobe is just as loud as his game.
His endeavours into the fashion world aren’t just limited to his legendary pre-game outfits, with the 32-year-old launching his own fashion line “Honor the Gift” in 2017.
For most NBA fans, most of the time you get to see Westbrook is in an NBA uniform, where the only outlet to express your personal sense of style is in your sneakers, and Westbrook hasn’t missed the opportunity to bring his own swag to the court through his parnertship with Jordan Brand.
Westbrook began his career as a Nike athlete, switching to Jordan Brand in 2012, rocking the latest editions of the Jordan line and a string of PEs. His first signature sneaker with the brand came in 2015 in a different path than most, producing an off-court, lifestyle sneaker The Westbrook 0. His first on-court performance signature sneaker would come three years later with the release of the ‘Jordan Why Not Zer0.1’.
Getting a signature lifestyle sneaker before getting your signature basketball sneaker is something only Westbrook could pull off.
In his own words….Why Not?
Infused with his flamboyant sartorial touch, Westbrook’s sneakers feature his personalised “RW” logo and his life motto “Why Not?” — a rally to continue to push the boundaries.
He explained the backstory to the motto, which you can see littered throughout his Instagram and emblazoned on his wristbands during game.
“It started off back in high school, my friends and I were just doing a lot of dumb stuff — throwing each other’s backpacks, or not going to class. So for months, every day we’d say that — ‘Why not?’ It would be some dumb s— like, ‘let’s run in the middle of the street’ — ‘why not?’ ‘Let’s go over here’ — ‘why not?’ ‘Let’s go out’ — ‘why not?’ We all played basketball together and before the game we’d be like, ‘Pssh, why not? Let’s hoop. Who cares?’
Then me and my real close friend thought, this is something that we can use — being kids growing up in the inner city, giving other kids a sense of confidence, a sense of swagger. I didn’t think I’d be playing in the NBA at the time, but just being able to give the next person, your brother, your friend, whoever it is, some confidence. Why not? Who told you you can’t? That’s how it started and now I’m using the mantra to keep impacting people across the world.”
It’s not just the wild patterns and bright colours; Westbrook’s designs, in which he takes a hands-on role in helping craft, incorporate the things that are most important to him, “Upbringing,” “Family” and “Trust & Loyalty” — the themes of his latest sneaker the ‘Why Not Zer0.4’.
“Russ wants to tell his stories and the stories that are important to him,” Lee Gibson, the lead designer of Westbrook’s signature sneaker, told SLAM Magazine.
“And the thing that you learn about Russ that you don’t really get a sense of maybe in these interviews and seeing him on TV is just the loyalty that he has to his friends and family. That’s what he grounds himself in. These first four shoes are very much about those connections.”
The Why Not Zer0.4, his fourth signature sneaker with Jordan Brand gave Westbrook an opportunity to shine a light on BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color) artists, designed the new colourways in tandem with several local artists.
Westbrook commissioned four artists to create pieces reflecting his priorities of “Upbringing,” “Family” and “Trust & Loyalty” — incorporating elements from his childhood in Los Angeles, his love of his family and his value of trust and loyalty.
“The African American community is obviously very important to me, and being a Black man in today’s society is something that I cherish and own,” he said in Jordan’s official release.
“We have to find ways to impact our youth, and tap into whatever it is they do —whether it’s art, sports or medicine. It’s been very inspiring for me to be able to do that through shoes and these artists commissions.”
Head to markofgreatness.com and design your signature logo and share it on social media using the hashtag #markofgreatness.
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