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Lakers' Kyle Kuzma inks a deal that will have him in LeBron James' first pair of NBA Nikes — literally

Lakers' Kyle Kuzma inks a deal that will have him in LeBron James' first pair of NBA Nikes — literally
Kyle Kuzma in a pair of Nike X Off-White X MoMA X Air Force 1 07 "Black" sneakers (with a pair of LeBron 10+ Sport Pack "Crown Jewel" shoes on the side) from sneaker-resale platform GOAT, which recently inked a deal to make the Los Angeles Laker forward a brand ambassador. (Katie McCurdy for GOAT)

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma has inked a deal with sneaker resale platform GOAT (an acronym for “Greatest of All Time”) that promises to make his feet a showcase of covetable — and in some cases, seriously rare — kicks all season long.

The brand ambassadorship, announced Wednesday, was made possible by a change in the NBA’s on-court dress code that removes color restrictions (last year, sneakers worn in regular-season games were limited to black, white, gray or team colors). This means Kuzma will be able to choose from a deep bench of sneakers available to the 3-year-old Culver City-based company both on court and off. (Because he’s also in the final year of a sponsorship deal with Nike, though, expect whatever he wears in-game to be made by the House of Swoosh.)

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What does this mean exactly? For his pre-game tunnel walk in advance of the Lakers’ season opener in Portland, Ore., tonight, for example, Kuzma is expected to wear a pair of red and white one-of-a-kind Nike Zoom 2k3 sneakers that LeBron James actually wore in his first on-court appearance as an NBA athlete (a 2003 team practice in Cleveland).

What does GOAT get in exchange? Brand awareness for starters. Who (outside of the hard-core sneakerhead community, mind you) knew there was actually a RealReal-style platform for hard-to-find sneakers that verifies the authenticity of each pair? (We’ll admit that we didn’t.)

Of course there’s also an opportunity to move product; GOAT’s website recently launched a landing page to display its LeBron James collection — 32 different styles celebrating the kid from Akron ranging in price from $25 (for a used pair Nike LeBron 12 “Heart of a Lion” sneakers, size 12) to $700 for a pair of new Nike HFR X LeBron 16 (size 10) sneakers. The latter of those, for anyone keeping track, was unveiled at New York Fashion Week barely a month ago, and were priced at $250 when the style dropped at retail Sept. 7.

GOAT co-founder Daishin Sugano (who was motivated to create the company with Eddy Lu after buying a pair of 2013 reissued Air Jordan 5 Grapes that turned out to be fakes) said the kicks that Kuzma sports — on court and off — as part of his GOAT ambassadorship will be chronicled on the company’s @goat Instagram feed and other social media channels.

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