Jordan Honors Kawhi With ‘Pass the Torch’ 1’s

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Jordan Brand is celebrating Kawhi Leonard’s legendary 2014 Finals performance with a flashy special edition of the iconic Air Jordan 1.

The Pass the Torch 1’s will be the first commercially available shoe adorned with the Klaw logo. These ones should fly off the shelves, because they’re hotter than the planet’s core.

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Feast your eyes on these bad boys. If you’re lucky enough to snag a pair when they release on April 28 for $160, you would be wise to also invest in a pair of flame-retardant socks.

In the words of Spongebob Squarepants, everything is chrome in the future. The reflective silver is balanced out nicely with the flat white panels and the black swoosh. This unique colorway of the most recognizable silhouette ever should pique the interest of any collector, but the details make the shoe extra special to Spurs fans.

These kicks pay homage to Kawhi’s Finals MVP performance with a gold tag of the Larry O’Brien trophy and gold 2014 tags on the laces, as well as the Finals logo on the inside of the sole. There are 16 tallies on the heel and laces, representing the number of playoff wins needed to win a title.

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The artwork from Nike and Jordan should also be a hit in Spurs Nation, highlighting Leonard’s lockdown defense and the fact that he shot 61 percent from the floor in those finals. As the name of the shoe suggests, it symbolizes the passing of the torch from the Big Three to the Klaw.

This is also the first shoe fans can buy that features the Klaw logo, both on the tongue tag and the icy blue sole. Up to this point, the only shoes with that branding have been the ones on Leonard’s feet.

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Kawhi may be known for being quiet, but it’s hard to imagine a louder pair of sneakers. The silver and black evokes Kawhi’s team, and also plays off his reputation as a robot. He’s been known to wear metallic retro J’s in the past, and more recently he was featured in the instant-classic Bold Like Kawhi ad to promote Jordan’s collaboration with Gatorade.

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This shoe is part of Nike’s Art of a Champion collection, which according to their website features 16 different shoes to celebrate the game’s greatest champions. Kawhi finds himself being honored alongside Kobe, Kevin McHale, Scottie Pippin, Rasheed Wallace, Maya Moore, Wes Unseld, Moses Malone, Kevin Durant, LeBron, Dr. J, Ray Allen, Bill Russell, and Michael Jordan.

What might this mean?

Reports circulated last month that contract negotiations with Jordan broke down because Kawhi’s camp wanted his new deal to reflect the fact that he is a top player in the league. They pushed for more money and a signature shoe like Russell Westbrook got, and Jordan Brand was unwilling to do that for a guy who has only played in nine games this year.

Jordan seems to be testing the market for Kawhi, and the success of this shoe could pave the way for a high-paying deal with a signature shoe for Leonard.

This isn’t the signature shoe that Leonard and his team wanted, but it’s a smart way for Jordan Brand to gauge the market’s interest in the Klaw. If fans crash the SNKRS site trying to buy them when they drop later this month, Jordan will probably be more willing to shell out the extra dough and give Kawhi his own distinct silhouette.

There are sneakerheads everywhere, and these are a must-cop for Spurs fans who spend too much money on shoes. They’re the kind of kicks that people will buy a pair to rock and a pair to keep deadstock in the box to auction off, or pass on to their kids, or just look at late at night to fill the void, like me.

These shoes are the first real sign that Jordan Brand realizes how popular Kawhi is, and they’re certainly trying to see how much money he can make them. Westbrook and others have proven that market size doesn’t matter much in the internet age, but it’s up to Kawhi and Spurs Nation to prove that quiet superstars can sell sneakers too.

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