Kobe VI in 3D?

As I sat down to try to come up with an killer post for today…I failed myself. However, I did not want to leave you empty-handed, so I looked to Nike for a quick post inspiration. Lo and behold, I stumbled across something extraordinary.

I’ve written about Kobe Bryant‘s signature shoe a couple of times already in this blog for posts on colored sneakers and Black History Month. This edition of the Kobe VI, however, is different from all of the rest.

I saw this in a Twitter post from Nike Basketball and it caught my attention right away: Kobe is taking his shoes into another dimension, literally. Nike Basketball has unveiled the Hollywood Zoom Kobe VI.

With so much emphasis put on 3D in Hollywood these days, Nike has come out with new Kobe’s featuring a 3D-design upper. But why take my word for it? See for yourself:

http://inside.nike.com/blogs/nikebasketball/2011/02/10/the-collection-hollywood-zoom-kobe-vi

p.s. I’ll be back with new, bigger, and better posts next week to get you athletes prepped for spring. Stay tuned!

p.p.s. For more from me, follow me on Twitter @Bradley_W_Parks and check out my sports blog/vlog B+ Sports here and on YouTube.

p.p.p.s. For more from Thread, follow us on Twitter @threadmag, like us on Facebook, and head to our website outhreadmag.com.

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Brave the cold. Take a run.

Most of us are probably getting tired of this cold weather. I’ll be the first to tell you the winter is great. I am a big winter fan. I love the snow because I think it’s prettiest precipitation Mother Nature has cooked up. Everything is picture perfect after a fresh blanket of white has been draped across all of the dips and dives of the earth’s contours.

However, now that I have to walk through the bone-chilling temperatures on my way to class and bike through the cold to the grocery store every week, winter isn’t nearly as fun.

The cold temperatures are especially rough on runners and cyclists. The cold is even more intense with the wind whipping in your face. There are alternatives to training in the cold here at Ohio University, for we have the lovely Ping Recreation Center complete with truckloads of treadmills and an indoor running track. Cyclists also have the option of hopping on a stationary bike for some spinning.

However, if you are like me, you aren’t satisfied with running indoors all the time. Also, there is no insulated tunnel to Kroger for me to bike through (unless I’m missing something). We who are not satisfied must brave the cold before spring comes.

Bundling up for an subzero exercise session is difficult, but I have found some clothing articles that help keep me nice and toasty during my outdoor workouts. Perhaps they will help you gear up for these last few weeks of winter.

Baselayer

This is perhaps the most important layer. Remember, these articles of clothing are the closest thing to your body besides your undies to keep you warm. Don’t skip this layer!

thermal

This is a simple thermal shirt. You can pick these up at Wal-Mart or a similar store for a few bucks. They are cheap, but they are incredibly warm!

tights

Hopefully, your legs aren't puny like mine so these will look better, but that's why they go underneath. These tights are made by Nike and are lined with fleece for incredible comfort and warmth. They are also Dri-Fit to keep your legs dry. Under Armour makes similar tights, but I think the Nike ones are better (naturally).

socks

Nike Dri-Fit socks are brilliant. These puppies will keep your feet dry and they aren't bulky, so you won't have to stuff them in your shoes. Did I mention they keep your feet dry?

Second Layer

This layer is to add protection to the baselayer (or warmth layer). These items will lock that warmth in.

shirt

This is a "cold gear" semi-fitted shirt to put over the thermal. Cold gear is made for the cold, obviously. Its design will help to seal up that warmth. Mine is again made by Nike, but Under Armour makes similar shirts that work well too.

pants

These windbreakers or "swishy pants" are terrific. They're called windbreakers for a reason. These are great for keeping out that cold head-on breeze that comes with running or cycling. Mine are Nike, but these can be found all over by many different brands.

Finishing Touches

These last few items will finish off your outfit to get you ready to brave the cold.

jacket

A jacket that zips up the neck is something you'll want to have over top of the other shirts. It will keep your neck covered and add an extra layer of warmth. Mine is a light fleece jacket from The North Face. A windbreaker works nice too.

mask

I gush about this all the time. My facemask was probably the best $30 I have ever spent or had spent on me. This bad boy from Under Armour keeps my whole head/face sealed in warmth. Get one of these...NOW. You can also add a beanie for extra warmth.

gloves

You will definitely want gloves no matter what, but may I recommend some like these. These are cold gear gloves from Nike ACG and are lined with fleece. Best gloves I have ever owned.

shoes

Clearly, you'll need some shoes to wear. There are so many great running and training shoes out there that it's hard to narrow it down to which ones you should have. I have the Nike Lunarglide and they are great. They're lightweight, breathable, and fly as can be. If I had to suggest a shoe, it'd be this one, but every athlete is different.

So that’s it! With my tips you are now ready to brave these final weeks of winter to get that bod in shape for spring and (contain yourself) SUMMER! Now get out there and exercise!

p.s. Note the Gatorade in the shoe picture. Make sure you stay hydrated out there.

p.p.s. For more from me, follow me on Twitter @Bradley_W_Parks and check out my sports blog/vlog B+ Sports here and on YouTube.

p.p.p.s. For more from Thread, follow us on Twitter @threadmag, like us on Facebook, and head to our website outhreadmag.com.

Super Bowl Sunday for superfans

The day football fans have waited for all season long is finally here: Super Bowl Sunday. Packers and Steelers fans alike are gearing up for what could be perhaps the greatest day of their lives in a neck-and-neck race with their wedding days and their children being born.

As the superfan prepares for this most glorious day, he or she is addressed with quite a few pressing questions: What food should I prepare? What time should I start watching pregame coverage? Which of my low-life friends should I not invite to my house because nobody really wants him/her there? Which room should I make my escape in case my guests start to annoy me? Perhaps the most important of all these questions: what should I wear to best display my fandom?

The superfan’s outfit is delicate and takes quality time to put together. The superfan tells himself/herself, “I have to make sure everybody knows that I love the [insert team here],” before piecing together their ensemble for the big game. Whether the superfan is going to the game, watching the game at a friend or family member’s house, or watching the game at home, he/she must wield their spirit like King Arthur did Excalibur.

This Sunday, Steelers and Packers fans will be put to the test. They will need to bust out all of the big guns in fan fashion. Here are the looks I expect to see Sunday:

Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers are not normally known for being flashy, but fans of the black and yellow will need to bring some flair to their superfan outfits to help carry their Steelers to the top in style. Wiz Khalifa reps his town and when you see him you know everything is black and yellow…black and yellow. Steeler fans pay attention, here are some tips for showing your superfandom:

 

The Terrible Towel is a must for any Steeler fan. Carry it proudly and wave that rag!(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Men, if you don’t have a beard like Brett Keisel’s, start growing one now for next season. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

 

Ladies (and fellows if you have it) let your hair hang down on Sunday! Curl it to look like Steeler great Troy Polamalu. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

 

Packers

Packer fans are always great. They have given us some of the greatest pieces of superfan history: the Lambeau Leap, headwear crafted to look like dairy products, and all kinds of Brett Favre jokes. The Pack Attack need to be out in full force on Sunday to bring the title back to Titletown. This is how we do it:

Like Pittsburgh's Terrible Towel, the cheesehead is a necessity for Packers fans. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Although Aaron Rodgers couldn't do his traditional title belt celebration after his touchdown, he still pointed to his "belt." Packer fans should wear their biggest belts! (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Packer fans, don't be afraid to let your hair down as well. Straighten those locks to look like Suave spokesman and Packers linebacker Clay Matthews. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

This is an official call to all superfans out there, to get your best fan gear on for Sunday! Steelers fans rep your town in black and yellow; Packers fans get your Lambeau Leap on and do the Raji.  Whether your towels are terrible or your heads are cheese, let’s hope for a great game.

p.s. Be responsible!

p.p.s. For more from me, follow me on Twitter @Bradley_W_Parks.

p.p.p.s. For more Super Bowl coverage from me, stay tuned to B+ Sports!

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NBA players’ kicks taste the rainbow

kobe, bryant, grinch

Kobe Bryant and teammates rocked his "Grinch" shoes on Christmas Day. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Something I have seen more and more often this season is NBA players wearing colored kicks on the court. Traditionally, basketball shoes are black or white with the small splash of color to brighten it up. Now with more risks being taken in athletic fashion, many basketball players, mainly NBA players have taken that splash of color and splashed it all over their shoes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing the colored shoes. I’m actually a big fan, but there are some players out there that don’t need to be wearing these souped up sneakers.

I say this because, as a basketball player, I know that footwork is an incredibly important part of the game. Good footwork takes a long time to develop. When a player has terrific footwork, it is a beautiful thing to marvel at. However, when a player has bad footwork, it is a difficult thing to watch.

Colored sneakers attract a lot of attention to a player’s feet. Players with great footwork such as Los Angeles Lakers’ forward Kobe Bryant, Boston Celtics guards Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen, and Miami Heat forward LeBron James are able to pull of these colorful kicks. However, players with poor footwork like Cleveland Cavaliers forward JJ Hickson need to leave the spontaneous shoes in the locker room. Brightly-colored sneakers will force players to be more aware of whether or not their foot is over the three-point line or if they are traveling. It is a lot easier for a referee to catch someone traveling if they are wearing bright green sneakers.

For all of you basketball players out there, before deciding to go with colored shoes, be sure they fit your game. Colored basketball shoes are for the quick and crafty. For those players who are a bit more clunky and clumsy, stick to black and white.

Here are some of the coolest colored kicks in the cave (even though some might be better off left behind):

rajon, rondo, celtics

Rajon Rondo drives with his green Nike Hyperfuse. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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Jeff Green in his yellow KDs goes around Chris "Birdman" Anderson in his Christmas Nikes. (Photo by Larry W. Smith/Getty Images)

jj, hickson, cavaliers

J.J. Hickson should probably leave those mustard monstrosities (Nike Hyperdunk) in the locker room. (Photo by David Liam Kyle/Getty Images)

derrick, rose, bulls

Derrick Rose in his red adidas. Teammate Luol Deng is seen in red Hyperfuse. (Photo by Ray Amati/Getty Images)

p.s. For more from me, follow me on Twitter @Bradley_W_Parks.

p.p.s. For more from Thread, check out our website, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

Who’s hot and who’s not at the Australian Open

andre, agassi, tennis

Agassi's legendary mullet. (Getty Images)

billie, jean, king

Billie Jean King's famous specs. (Getty Images)

Who doesn’t enjoy throwing on their best shorts and tennis sneakers to go out and serve up some smooth forehands and backhands? The tennis court is often one of the best places to find fashionable folk whether they are swinging a racket or taking in a match. Tennis fans will all remember the greatest in tennis fashion from years past; everything from Billie Jean King‘s Coke-bottle glasses to Andre Agassi‘s legendary mullet has its place in tennis and fashion history. We have seen neon outfits, ninja-like headbands, fluffy socks, large sweatbands, flashy footwear, and, tennis’ gift to the world, slouch caps.

This year’s Australian Open, the first grand slam of the season, has not let us down with some thrilling threads and some daring digs. Once again, Nike has stepped it up with new gear for their athletes. Adidas always makes a good showing between the lines. Also, Lacoste wraps American Andy Roddick in some great gear. However, there are always those outfits that just leave you shaking your head. Good or bad, it is always fun to jump right in rackets up to see who hit and who missed. Here are my best and worst from this year’s grand slam from down under.

WORST: Venus Williams

venus, williams, tennis

Venus Williams (AP Photo/Andrew Brownbill)

In a good-news/bad-news situation, I’ll start by giving you the bad that way we can end on a high note. Sports fans know that Venus Williams is a great tennis player and will definitely go down as one of the greatest players in the history of the game. No matter her injury status or her age, Venus is always one of the most threatening women to go up against on the tennis court. With five victories at Wimbledon and seven overall grand slams for her career, the fourth-ranked Williams is a tennis giant. This year at the Australian Open she had to leave early after stretching too far to return a serve in the second game of her match with Germany’s Andrea Petkovic and injuring her side. For tennis fans, it is upsetting to see an early exit from Venus, but for the fashion sphere it may be a blessing in disguise. In my first post on this blog, I discussed the importance of ventilation in what athletes are wearing in action. However, I think Venus’ designers have taken it a bit too far with this outfit. This yellow monstrosity was definitely ventilated, but was difficult to look at. Mesh is perfect for a ventilated uniform and would have made this a much better look for Venus, but instead her designers concocted this which looks like wet lasagna noodles woven together and called a shirt. We will miss seeing Venus in action on the court, but I’m fairly certain we won’t miss this outfit.

Dishonorable Mention: Lleyton Hewitt, Kirsten Flipkens

BEST: Rafael Nadal

rafael, nadal, tennis

Rafael Nadal (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

One person tennis fans and fashion fans can enjoy seeing stick around in this tournament is Rafael Nadal. So far in the Australian Open, Rafa has yet to lose a set and is once again looking to add to his career grand slam total, only three wins away from the title. Nadal currently sits at the top of the bracket with the number one seed, but lurking at the bottom are possible championship opponents in number two seed Roger Federer and number three seed Novak Djokovic. Nonetheless, Rafa is playing well, as expected, and his threads aren’t half bad either. Most people who read this blog are probably beginning to think I work for Nike or something. Only in my dreams, but it is clear to me that they are way ahead of the game. Top-ranked Nadal’s outfit for the Open is just another prime example of how Nike is flexing its muscles. Nadal’s getup is simple and stunning. A lot of Nike’s designs are extravagant as seen in the Pro Combat series, but they really have captured the best of their modern and classic styles here. Rafa’s outfit is plain and simple with no flashy graphics, but Nike threw in the flashy neon orange to really make it pop. Nike never ceases to amaze me with the product they put out and this is no exception.

Honorable Mention: Andy Murray, Ana Ivanovic

When it comes down to it, athletes are looking for comfort above all else when it comes to choosing their gear. Rafa Nadal’s outfit is something that I would be very comfortable playing tennis in. There probably are not a lot of women out there who would be comfortable hitting the court in what Venus was wearing. However, whether the outfits are hot or not, the tennis certainly has been great and we still have plenty more to enjoy this year. Let’s just hope Venus leaves her lasagna in the closet.

p.s. For more Australian Open fashion, check out this slideshow from Sports Illustrated.

p.p.s. For more from me, follow me on Twitter @Bradley_W_Parks.

p.p.p.s. For more from Thread, check out our website outhreadmag.com, follow us on Twitter @outhreadmag, and follow us on Facebook.

Nike, Jordan, and Converse celebrate Black History Month

“Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther could walk. Martin Luther walked so Barack Obama could run. Barack Obama ran so all the children could fly…” — Jay-Z

This snippet from a verse from Jay-Z‘s remix of “My President Is Black” by Young Jeezy gives a brief list of reasons why we celebrate Black History Month. Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., are civil rights pioneers and President Obama is making history as well. These history-makers/path-pavers and their marks made on history are what we like to remember and honor in the month of January.

nike, pau, gasol

Nike-sponsored players had the option of wearing the BHM shoes on Monday. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Nike, Jordan, and Converse are taking that a step further with their Black History Month or “BHM” collection of basketball shoes. Just like Parks and King were in the Civil Rights Movement, there were African-American pioneers in the game of basketball and the folks behind the three aforementioned companies wanted to do their best to capture the legacies of civil rights and basketball pioneers alike in their limited edition sneakers.

Sole Collector, a magazine devoted to “all things sneakers,” interviewed Nike Basketball Footwear Designer Jonathan Johnsongriffin and Nike Basketball Graphic Designer Erick Goto about the BHM collection. The collection features four spotlight models: the Converse Star Player, Jordan Retro III, Nike Air Force 1, and Nike Zoom Kobe VI.

The Air Force 1 is a regular in the BHM lineup, but Nike Inc. decided to step its game up this year by adding the other three shoes to the spotlight to highlight basketball’s African-American pioneers.

Nike had an idea much like the Jay-Z lyrics I introduced at the beginning of this post. Julius “Dr. J” Erving paved the way for Michael Jordan who, in turn, paved the way for Kobe Bryant. These three serve as Nike’s pillars of excellence, if you will, in the progression of African-Americans in the game of basketball.

Dr. J brought something entirely new to the game with his silky moves around the basket and monstrous slams. I think we all know what Michael Jordan did. And, finally, Kobe Bryant is the modern-day pioneer, introducing an entirely new upbeat one-on-one style of play.

One of the coolest features of these celebratory kicks is the laser-etching done to the uppers. All of the shoes, the Star Player, Retro III, and the Kobes, feature individualized laser-etching made to look like woodcuts.

kobe, bryant, nike

Kobe Bryant soars in his BHM "Black Mambas." (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

When I say “individualized” I mean that each shoe’s laser design is unique to the player that wore/wears
the shoe. For example, Kobe’s kicks feature a marking of “X5” to represent his five championships and also a design to honor his career-high 81-point game. Both of which look terrific on top of the standard “Black Mamba” scales on the Kobe VI.

The Star Player honors Dr. J and his legacy as does the Retro III for MJ. The Air Force 1 takes on a collective design as it doesn’t belong to a single player.

The sneakers were all unveiled on Martin Luther King Day as 26 NBA teams took to the court on the holiday.

Along with these four feature shoes, Nike cranked out more than 20 player-specific models for Nike-sponsored athletes such as Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns and Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Overall, I’d say these celebratory sneaks were all a huge success. The black, representative of the basketball pioneers, is striking and always looks sleek on the court. The gold, often a symbol of victory, is the perfect color to represent the greats of the Civil Rights Movement. Nike, Jordan, and Converse captured the identity of Black History Month spot on. This MLK Day provided a great day of basketball along with some slick sneaks. Nike’s BHM collection definitely flies high.

“…So I’ma spread my wings, you can meet me in the sky.” — Jay-Z

p.s. To check out Sole Collector‘s feature on the BHM Collection and some close-up photos of the sneakers, head over to their website.

p.p.s. For more from me, follow me on Twitter @Bradley_W_Parks.

p.p.p.s. For more from Thread go to our website at outhreadmag.com, follow us on Twitter @threadmag, and/or like us on Facebook.

The Nike Pro Combat takeover

oregon, ducks, uniform

The Oregon Ducks donned carbon-fiber helmets and highlighter-yellow socks and shoes for the Tostito's BCS National Championship Game. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The sports world has been buzzing all year long about what Nike has been doing with some select NCAA football teams and their uniforms. For the past few years college football fans have gotten used to the Oregon Ducks and their rapidly-changing uniforms. The University of Oregon has essentially been Nike’s creative palette, being as co-founders Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman were both involved with the track and field program at the school before they launched the company in 1971. The Ducks now reap the benefits by getting the most advanced technology in sportswear for their athletic program.

However, in the past couple of years Nike has branched out to some of their higher-profile schools to bring them some new digs. Nike really stepped their game up this year with the newest edition of the Nike Pro Combat series. With each uniform, the folks at Nike took a significant piece of the team’s history and used it as the driving force behind the look.

And, boy, did we get some interesting looks. The Horned Frogs of Texas Christian University (TCU) donned scales on their helmets and pants. Virginia Tech wore flat black helmets to go with the all-black uniforms. Our neighbors to the north, the Ohio State Buckeyes, wore scarlet helmets in the likeness of the scarlet leather helmets worn by the 1942 Bucks.

However, the creative style coming with this series is not all we saw. Nike wasn’t just making funky-looking uniforms to draw attention. The Nike Pro Combat series was a new wave of technologically-advanced uniforms. The jersey is constructed using an ultra-lightweight Dri-FIT material, making it “23% faster than current designs” according to their website. The jersey and pants also have increased ventilation in the areas that need it most to keep players not only dry, but fast.

Could this be the future of uniforms all over the sports world? The Nike design team certainly hopes so. The company seems to have a firm hold on the uniform industry and they are only growing stronger. As I mentioned, Nike already provides uniforms for a vast amount of schools in the NCAA for football and they have these schools locked for other sports such as basketball as well.

Competing companies have not had a lot of success in generating as much buzz as Nike in the past few years.

TCU, horned, frogs, uniforms, nike

TCU looked slick in scales against Oregon State. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Adidas is in charge of National Basketball Association (NBA) apparel and this year they unveiled their new Revolution 30 jerseys. These jerseys feature mesh numbers heat-sealed rather than sewn onto the jerseys. The use of mesh instead of tackle-twill and less thread equals a lighter and cooler jersey.

Reebok has its hands on the National Hockey League (NHL), but the NHL doesn’t generate enough buzz with their sport let alone their apparel. Reebok also has the National Football League (NFL), but only for one more season. Nike has signed a contract to take over NFL apparel in 2012.

Under Armour cannot put a league to its name with only a select few college teams sporting their uniforms.

So is this a good thing or a bad thing? Personally, I am a huge fan of the Nike Pro Combat series and I love what they have put on display in college football in particular. But as Nike slowly tightens its grip around sports fashion, will their quality start to decrease? I like to see some competition because that keeps Nike on top of its game. What will we see in the future? Nobody knows. But for now we can sit back and enjoy what the people behind the Swoosh have put on the playing field and only wonder what they will come up with next.

p.s. To further explore the Nike Pro Combat series, head over to Nike’s website.

p.p.s. Which Nike Pro Combat uniform is your favorite? Let us know by leaving a comment!

p.p.p.s. For more from me, follow me on Twitter @Bradley_W_Parks.