Ask any athlete, and they’ll tell you: Socks matter. Basketball athletes have a unique relationship with their shoes, and are particularly vocal about their affinity for socks and how they provide comfort, protection and traction. Beyond that, tradition plays a critical role in sock-wearing, and includes rituals such as layering two or more socks, wearing one higher than another or scrunching them around the ankles.
Foot size is only one differentiating factor between players. Nike learned through research that sock thickness, as it relates to style of play, is equally important. Thus, Nike designers created two types of socks for its partnership with the NBA: the thick and super-cushioned NBA NikeGrip Power Crew sock, and the lightweight with medium cushion NBA NikeGrip Quick Crew sock. Both are made with NikeGrip yarns (ultrafine polyester fibers twisted with traditional fibers to increase the sock's surface area) for anti-slip traction and zoned cushioning that protects and vents.
“Socks are the first line of defense,” says NBA legend Kobe Bryant, who challenged the designers to create socks so good that players would stop wearing two at the same time. “Your feet are the most important thing you bring to the game,” Bryant adds. “You’ve got to take care of your feet.”
Kevin Durant, who is known for layering two pairs of socks out of a preference for maximum cushioning around his heels and ankles, had significant input for the super-cushioned NBA NikeGrip Power Crew sock. “I want a lot of cushioning,” Durant told the development team. “But I want to feel the court.”
Feeling the court is equally important to LeBron James, who pushed the designers to prioritize traction as much as cushioning, and to achieve an optimal level of compression and flexibility around the foot and ankle. “It’s important that I don’t slide in my shoes,” says James, whose input influenced the placement of NikeGrip on the NBA NikeGrip Quick and Power Crew socks. “I need traction for cutting and jumping.”
Here are five things to know about the new NBA NikeGrip Power and Quick socks.
1. These are the first Nike socks to have the NBA logo. Special versions of both socks will be worn by all NBA athletes throughout the season, and there will be a Nike sock for each uniform edition.
2. Nike Basketball and Jordan athletes got first-hand experience with the NBA NikeGrip Power and Quick Crew socks at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and provided crucial insights for their development. Nike also worked with collegiate and high school players on all aspects of the sock development and extended wear-testing process.
3. To achieve optimum zoned thickness for the NBA NikeGrip Power Crew sock, Nike’s NXT developed a new machine with a larger dial and needle than anything on the market at the time. The needles have wider entries to fit thicker yarn through, which enables the machine to create bigger terry loops that are knitted to sculpt the foot. The machine can add cushion, mesh and NikeGrip where needed. As a result, the NBA NikeGrip Power Crew sock is the most-cushioned performance sock Nike has ever created.
4. Both of Nike’s NBA NikeGrip Crew socks are made with cushioning in the areas where basketball players need it most: on the forefoot, heel and ankle. Thinner mesh on top of the sock vents (this placement was determined through thermal mapping). NikeGrip on the lateral side grips the outside of the foot. The forefoot of the NBA NikeGrip Quick Crew sock has Nike Forefoot Lock (two thin spandex bands that arch to support the foot and prevent the socks from bunching near the toes). Both the NBA NikeGrip Power and Quick Crew socks incorporate a heel lock that keeps the sock in place and reduces sliding.
5. Of course, the Charlotte Hornets get their own Jordan socks (another first).
Quick and Power versions of the Nike and Jordan NBA NikeGrip Crew socks come in black and white, and are available October 1 on nike.com/nba. A version of the NBA Nike Elite Quick sock will also be available in team colors.