Kawhi Leonard is a two-time NBA champion, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, and a five-time NBA All-Star.
Moreover, he is rapidly gaining prominence in the sneaker world.
In 2018, Kawhi Leonard signed an endorsement deal with New Balance. This has led to the creation of his highly acclaimed signature shoes.
Kawhi Leonard’s endorsement has made New Balance a force in the basketball shoe market.
But before New Balance, Leonard had a deal with Nike but left in 2019 over a logo dispute. He sued Nike, alleging fraud.
Nonetheless, let’s take a closer look into the shoes of Kawhi Leonard – from the start of his NBA career to his signature lines’ influence on the sneaker culture.
- 2012: Air Jordan V “Wolf Grey”
- 2013: Air Force Max 2013 Shoes
- 2014: Air Jordan XX8 SE
- 2015: Air Jordan XX9
- 2016: Air Jordan XXX
- 2017: Air Jordan 31
- 2018: Air Jordan 32
- 2019: New Balance OMN1S
- 2020: The KAWHI
- 2021: The KAWHI 2
- 2023: The KAWHI 3
Kawhi Leonard Shoes Before New Balance
Before signing with New Balance in 2018, Kawhi Leonard had an impressive line-up of shoes from Nike.
During his tenure with the Jordan Brand, Leonard showcased his style and skills in various Nike shoes.
Leonard’s shoes with Nike were known for their performance and style.
The Air Jordan V “Wolf Grey,” a retro version of the original Air Jordan V, debuted in 2012.
The 2012 Air Jordan V “Wolf Grey” was worn by Kawhi Leonard during his early years in the NBA – with the San Antonio Spurs.
The shoe has the same overall design as the original but has minor differences, such as a volt tongue, ankle straps, and shoe laces.
Kawhi Leonard wore the Air Force Max 2013 in the NBA Finals, despite being a guard who usually wore guard-based shoes like Pennys.
The shoe was introduced in 1993 and was a preferred choice of the NBA MVP, Charles Barkley.
It was originally designed for big men but helped Leonard elevate his game and make memorable highlights.
The shoe features a “Dynamic Flywire” system that provides support and flexibility.
The Air Jordan XX8 SE was a special edition of the Air Jordan XX8 designed specifically for Kawhi Leonard.
The shoe holds a special place in Kawhi Leonard’s sneaker legacy.
It witnessed some of his most memorable performances helping Spurs win NBA Finals, crowning him Finals MVP.
The XX8’s FlightPlate and unlocked Zoom Air were featured in other Jordan Brand sneakers.
Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs aimed to defend being the NBA champions after Leonard’s Finals MVP performance in 2014.
With this goal, Jordan Brand responded by keeping features from the XX8 and transferring them to the Jordan XX9.
The Unlocked Zoom setup remained, but a Zoom Air unit was removed from the heel to reduce weight.
Kawhi Leonard switched things up when he laced up a pair of Air Jordan XXX when the shoes came out in January 2016.
The XXX pair resembles the design of the XX8 and XX9 because it retained the unlocked Zoom Air and FlightPlate (Note: This was renamed to FlightSpeed.).
The major difference can be seen in the style, thanks to Tinker Hatfield’s innovative ideas.
Unlike the past two models, the Jordan shoe designer adds a “cosmos-inspired” visual to this model, referencing Michael Jordan’s iconic 1988 slam dunk contest.
It’s only fitting that Kawhi’s numbers would also take off in the year he rocked these kicks, with his points per game average increasing from 16.5 to 21.2.
Throughout the 2016-17 season, Kawhi Leonard exclusively sported the Air Jordan 31.
Yet, this time, he debuted a new Player Exclusive colorway of the Air Jordan 31.
The AJ31 showcased a full-length Zoom Air unit for exceptional cushioning and responsiveness. On the other side, the synthetic leather heel paid homage to the iconic design of the Jordan 1
His distinctive “Klaw” logo adorned the tongues of these sneakers.
This highly anticipated model was built upon the success of its predecessor, the Air Jordan 31.
Kawhi Leonard debuted this low-top Air Jordan XXXII in a game – the first low-top shoe he has ever worn.
One of its new and improved features is the FlightSpeed+ system, the same system used in the Air Jordan XXXI.
Last 2018, Leonard was traded to the Raptors and helped them win the 2019 NBA championship.
Kawhi Leonard’s Shoes With New Balance
Kawhi’s partnership with Jordan took a turn for the worse when the brand paid him less than $500,000 a year.
This is where New Balance stepped in. ESPN’s Nick De Paula reported that Kawhi’s new shoe brand offered more than 5 million per season.
Kawhi Leonard’s shoe contract with New Balance made him one of the “Top 15 shoe endorsement deal earners” in the NBA back in 2018.
Since parting ways with the Jordan brand, Kawhi Leonard and New Balance have collaborated on a series of signature shoes since 2019.
The partnership has been a success, with Leonard becoming an iconic figure in the sneaker world.
His well-known signature shoes with New Balance are the OMN1S and the KAWHI.
Moreover, each shoe incorporates cutting-edge technology, a sleek design, and Leonard’s unique style.
The 2019 New Balance OMN1S was Kawhi Leonard’s first signature shoe with the brand.
In addition to his partnership with New Balance, Kawhi Leonard made a significant move in 2019 by signing with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Since then, Leonard has remained a key player for the Clippers.
His new team inspired the “Reign colorway” for OMN1S.
Moreover, the OMN1S features a full-length FuelCell midsole for explosive movement, a 3D Ultra Heel construction for lockdown, and a FitWeave upper for comfort and support.
Kawhi Leonard’s first official signature shoe, the KAWHI, debuted in August 2020 during the Clippers’ run to the NBA Finals in the Orlando Bubble.
It is a high-performance shoe designed to help Leonard dominate on the court.
The shoe also featured several innovative designs, such as a dual-density midsole and a supportive upper.
Leonard used the KAWHI during his run to the NBA Finals in 2020.
Beyond the success of its release, the shoe helped Leonard solidify his reputation as one of the best players in the league.
The KAWHI 2 was a refinement of the original KAWHI.
The KAWHI II is designed for a positionless style of play – meaning players of all positions can use it.
The shoe combines New Balance’s best performance technologies, such as the FuelCell midsole and the Fit Weave Lite upper.
The KAWHI II’s full-length performance plate is designed to help players cut, jump, and stay stable.
After recovering from a partially torn ACL during the 2021-22 season, Kawhi Leonard is back with another signature New Balance shoe, which will turn heads.
The KAWHI III “Alpha Predator” is a shoe designed for performance but also looks great.
The KAWHI III features several new and innovative features. This includes a full-length FuelCell cushioning system, a carbon fiber arc plate, and a lightweight knit upper.
But, the standout feature of this shoe is the groundbreaking Energy Arc technology, a first in basketball footwear.
From his early days with Nike to his current partnership with New Balance, Leonard continues influencing many people in basketball and sneaker culture.
His signature shoes have not only reflected his unique style and playing abilities but have also become symbols of his commitment to excellence and innovation.