Gamer-exclusive sneakers: what PE means + how to get your own pair

The current state of sneaker culture, like many other collectible hobbies, is driven by exclusivity. The fewer pairs made, the higher the hype. Week after week, people around the world flood stores and apps trying to get hold of the latest limited edition, most often only to end up with the dreaded L on every release date. But even the luckiest (or best-booted) of sneaker heads really can only dream of the top echelon of limited releases, the Exclusive Player.

What is a Player Exclusive?

Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

In its simplest form, a Exclusive Player (or PE for short) is exactly what it sounds like: an exclusive colors of a given model of shoe which is exclusive to an individual NBA player or players. Typically these are colors designed to match the team colors of the player the PE is intended for, such as the air jordan 1 Chicago colors. Sometimes PEs are also adorned with a player’s personal logo, like all shoes in the Curry range. However, not all PEs are created equal.

When most people talk about EP, they are only referring to colors that exist on already popular shoes. Therefore, almost all noteworthy EPs are variations of Iconic shoes. Very rarely, if ever, does a “team shoe” PE become coveted. There are a few exceptions, but no one really wants their own pair of Nike HyperDunks with Draymond Green’s personal logo on it. Sorry, Dray. Unique colors of retro air jordans will always be at the top of the “best PE” lists. Still.

Player Exclusive Schools

Jordan 36 UNC PE
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Some of the most wanted PE shoes aren’t even technically exclusives for gamers but rather specific to the school colors. Adidas made shoes for Indiana, Miami and Louisville, offering their line of Donovan Mitchell, James Harden, Dame Lillard and other designs to schools. To no one’s surprise, Adidas also struggled to bring schools into the new Yeezy basketball performance shoes.

New balance hasn’t quite figured out how to market its Kawhi Leonard line of shoes to schools, only adding Boston College to its roster in recent years. under protection works with Maryland, Auburn and South Carolina, giving them access to Stephen Curryas well as the kicks of Joel Embiid. Converse had its heyday until Michael took to the court, providing the only athletic shoe specifically designed for basketball. But since the air jordan revolution, Creverse has not been able to recover since. But that’s okay, since Nike bought the former Kings of Sole in 2003 for $315 million. If you can’t beat them, get bought by them.

Nike distributes apparel and footwear to Arizona, USC, Duke, UConn and Oklahoma State, sending the latest Kyries, Russell Westbrook and Nike LeBrons at their doorstep. Paige Bueckers, who has a similar playing style to Kyrie, rocked his signature show while playing at UConn. Duke’s relationship is something you should already know before considering Zion Williamson ripped a pair of Paul George iconic shoes during his tenure as Blue Devil. Zion wouldn’t have torn a pair of James james shoes, I can tell you.

But the big fish, Jordan Brandmanufactures models for several university programs, including Michigan, Florida, Georgetown, North Carolina, Marquette and Oklahoma.

Notice that each pair of shoes in this photo has the University logo on the tongue, as well as the school colors. It’s a telltale sign of a school PE and something that elevates a pair on a similar theme. colors. Take for example the “UNC” Jordan 3. Under Michael Jordan attending the University of North Carolinaa lot of jordan retro are published these days in “UNC” theme colors. Typically adorned with “Carolina blue”, these retro tend to resell a little more expensive than the average retro, but nothing out of the ordinary. In the case of the Jordan 3 UNC released in 2020, the pair is predominantly white with hits of Carolina Blue near the elephant print, as well as on the Jumpman logos. The pairs are currently selling on sites like StockX for around $450.

Compare this with the Jordan 3 UNC PE from 2018 which is exactly the same colors, except this time it has the North Carolina logo on the tongue instead of the Jumpman logo. These pairs have an average sale price of $4,000 these days. Is this modified logo really worth nearly 10 times as much money? I don’t think anyone would say that’s the determining factor of the price. But since the PE sneakers were never sold in stores and were only originally made available to students and staff involved in school sports teams, the rarity of the model skyrockets the price. Likewise, many believe that the demand for PEs such as the Jordan 3 is what drives the brand to later release very similar products. colors in a much larger version.

There is no school that receives more PE consistently than the University of Oregon. Due to being located a stone’s throw from Nike headquarters in Beaverton, (and because the co-founder of Nike is a former), UO gets all kinds of PE. There are even collectors who only focus on ducks colors. P.J. Tucker made himself a cottage industry playing in the most coveted shoes in the game and when he wore a Oregon Ducks F&F PE Jordan 13 during last year’s NBA Finals warm-ups. Sneaker Twitter nearly exploded.

NBA Sneaker-Head Players

PJ Tucker's off-white Jordan 5s

Related: PJ Tucker’s Sneaker Collection Features A Pair Of $50,000 Nikes

PJ is the perfect transition to specific player PEs. While Tucker is known for playing in the most high-profile kicks in games and warm-ups, more often than not he’s playing in someone else’s EP. Until the 2019 season, the NBA had a rule in the books that required each player’s shoes to primarily match the colors of their uniform. (This is how we get the largely wrong “Banned” air jordan 1 history, but that’s for another time) And since there are only a limited number of sneakers that are suitable for basketball at a professional level, and an even more limited number of players signed for signature shoe offers, the EP was born.

Some top-rated PEs courtesy of Ray Allen. Allen was one of the original members of “Team Jordan” – Jordan Brandthe first recruits. While most Jordanian athletes would end up playing in ‘Team Jorda’ shoes, Allen was known to wear the same model ‘His Airness’ wore in his days on the court. Allen also ended up being the ‘face’ of the lawsuit air jordan signature line, even after MJ retired for good. Partly because of their rarity, partly because the Jordans look so good in Seattle Sonics colors, and partly because of Ray Allen’s career, most of Allen’s PEs fetch prices at five figures in the secondary market. (Because nobody wants air jordan 22, even if it is an EP).

Players will be playing in all kinds of EPs these days. I saw no less than 10 different variants of the Nike Kobe 6 Protro on the court this season, and not a single one Kobe 6 Protro has been made available or you or me. Speaking of Kobe, when he retired, he received what might be Jordan’s largest collection of EPs. Every model (until its retirement) is done in bright white, with the Jordan 3 and Jordan VIII getting purple and gold accents. (Kobe played in these two models and these specific PE’s are GORGEOUS), and an opposing set that was auctioned off for charity in all black. This set cost $240,100, or about $8,000 a pair. Honestly a bargain by today’s standards.

This is just the tip of the PE iceberg. Every year, sneaker heads tune ESPN only to see what’s on their favorite player’s feet and salivate at the thought of one day owning a similar pair. Or maybe win the lottery and buy a pair of Jeter 11s. Or maybe receive a pair of Carhartt 4s, which is like winning the lottery on your own. It is good to dream.

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