DUNK DIRK: SO CLOSE…SO FAR…
FOOTWEAR PRODUCT DIRECTOR: CORE PERFORMANCE – FEBRUARY 05 - APRIL 07
It seemed the right idea at the time. Lest we forget how different the basketball performance climate was in 2008/2009. Lebron hadn’t a championship ring, Kobe was...well Kobe...KD and Curry were in high school. And there was a young start up brand intent on disruption – not only to the premium nature of the performance footwear business but the industry itself... stand up if you remember Starbury. The Dirk signature model was conceived as all the best footwear ideas are, by talking to the athlete. Anybody who knows Dirk will tell you that he is as thoughtful off the court as on it. He told us plain and simple. Can you make a shoe for me? If so,I want to ensure most can access it.
My role as Footwear Product Director was to ensure we placed the most appropriate resources against the right strategy for the category and for Nike. Why not launch an amazing $80 signature product? Wiser heads prevailed. Nike did not launch a Dirk $80 signature basketball product. Instead we released a really innovative $80 performance basketball shoe informed by the athlete.
The product was genuinely innovative. 285 lbs athlete. Immense shear forces. We had to keep the bag stable. The bag was contained with a wrap last. That was a first. It looked really sharp too! Dirk wear-tested the shoe...and loved it. And he did actually wear it; despite his disappointment of it not being a signature model.
Starbury died, Lebron dominated, basketball exploded. Dirk wound down. For 18 months though it was amazing innovation and athlete journey. Moreover it taught me a valuable leadership lesson around athletes, signature and the brand.