Zurich Classic of New Orleans

TPC Louisiana

Shoes Off In the House

NIU basketball player makes layup while holding one of his shoes, should have Nike NIL deal wrapped up by the end of the week

January 11, 2023

Basketball and sneakers go together like iced tea and lemonade. No single sport on earth—not soccer, not tennis, not Irish river dancing—has been responsible for the sale of more shoes than basketball. Shoe brands know it too, shelling out huge money for the next big name time and time again. Michael, Kobe, Steph. The list goes on, and NIU senior Kaleb Thornton now finds his name at the top after this highlight of him making a layup while holding his shoe instead of wearing it went viral on Tuesday. Check it out.

This is some next-level marketing synergy. Why make viewers squint at your feet to see what you’re wearing when you can hold it up to their face while draining buckets? It’s genius. Even if the big brands don’t flock for Thronton’s signature, you gotta think someone in the footwear industry could use his NIL services. We can practically see the commercial now. Thornton’s on the breakaway with the clock ticking down. He drives the lane. He jumps. Everything goes slow motion as he lays it in to win the state championship. The camera pulls back to reveal that he’s been holding his Dr. Scholl’s orthopedic insole-outfitted sneaker the whole time. The crowd goes wild. He winks at the camera. “Yeah,” he says. “We’re gellin’.”

It’s gold, Jerry, GOLD! And even if it’s not, at least Thornton’s got his 15 minutes of fame. That’s more than most of us can say, shoes on or off.