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Sports January, 31 2014

The New York Times Examines Sneaker Rivalries Amongst NBA Players

When it comes to on-court apparel, one of the only ways NBA players can differentiate themselves from teammates is through their shoe choice – as the NBA has a strict dress code. The New York Times recently explored several sneaker enthusiasts in the Association who despite being paid to endorse certain brands, still shell out several thousands of dollars a month to build their collection. While a choice excerpt appears below, head here to read the piece in its entirety.

P. J. Tucker, a forward with the Phoenix Suns, really likes sneakers. He likes them so much, in fact, that he needs four locations to store his collection.

He keeps some at his home in Phoenix, where about 200 pairs are piled in boxes next to his bed. He stacks others in the locker room at US Airways Center, where he occupies two stalls.

His mother has been gracious enough to stow several dozen at her home. She was, after all, the person who enabled his shoe-buying habit as a child, driving him to a Footaction store whenever the latest pair of Jordans was available.

And then there is the climate-controlled warehouse in North Carolina, not far from where he grew up, where Tucker stashes the bulk of his 2,000-pair collection. He does his best to label the boxes; otherwise, he might forget what he owns.

“My mom asks me all the time, When is it going to be enough?” Tucker said. “I don’t know. It’s an obsession. It’s something that I love. My vice is shoes.”

Tucker has a lot of company. The love affair between N.B.A. players and their basketball shoes has never been more passionate. The players’ unquenchable thirst for footwear is evident on the court, where they cycle through styles hourly, it seems, and at home, where shoe boxes teeter in players’ closets like pieces in a Jenga game.

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