Last night, during the first game of the NBA Finals, Denver Nuggets swingman Jamal Murray posted a monstrous line of 26 points, 10 rebounds, and six boards—punctuated by a couple of emphatic two-hand slams in the first quarter. You’d be forgiven, however, if you missed all that because you were too busy staring at the shoes on Murray’s feet: a pair of never-before-seen Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance TWO WXY v3s.
Aimé Leon Dore, of course, has plenty of history with New Balance’s basketball division: the New York brand’s smash-hit revival of the 550, an ‘80s-era hoops model, was arguably the defining sneaker of both 2020 and 2021. That success led to further retro basketball releases—like the high-top 650s—and set the stage for ALD founder Teddy Santis to become creative director of the New England shoemaker’s entire Made in USA line.
But Murray’s Game 1 bow marks the very first time an ALD-ified performance New Balance basketball shoe has been spotted in the wild. (Last April, images of an ALD-designed TWO WXY v1 surfaced in New Balance marketing materials, but those shoes were never publicly released.) For his first swing at a contemporary hoops shoe, Santis shrewdly stuck close to the 550 playbook, revamping the techy silhouette with his signature cream-and-green palette and ALD’s New York basketball logo on the tongue.
The early reviews from sneakerheads have been wildly positive: “Def wanna see NB get love beyond lifestyle,” one Twitter user wrote. “This might be the catalyst.” New Balance will certainly hope that’s the case—since relaunching its performance basketball line in 2019, with Kawhi Leonard as its face, the company has struggled to gain any real traction on the hardwood. Given the recent looks at Adidas basketball shoes designed by Fear of God’s Jerry Lorenzo, it makes sense that New Balance is pulling its most vital creative collaborator into the NBA on-court arms race. A sprinkling of ALD’s magic hype dust—coupled with a star-cementing Finals performance from Murray—could be the jolt NB Hoops needs to finally break