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Russ Bengtson, author of A History of Basketball in Fifteen Sneakers, joins Vincent Goodwill to talk about some of the most famous basketball sneakers, why sneaker promotion has changed so dramatically, and what sneakers fans should be buying today.
On this episode of the Good Word with Goodwill podcast, longtime sneaker expert Russ Bengtson stops by to talk about his new book: A History of Basketball in Fifteen Sneakers.
Before they get to the shoes, Vince talks with Russ about his time as the editor-in-chief at SLAM Magazine and what SLAM meant to basketball in the 90s and 00s.
The guys then dive into Russ’ process. How did he settle on these 15 sneakers? Are there any that he had to leave out? Was he always planning on talking about 15? What was most important to Russ was using the sneakers to talk about the full history of basketball without any big gaps, so that the book can be equal parts about the shoes and the game.
One of the things that Russ and Vince both miss is the big promotional pieces, posters and TV commercials, that the big shoe makers used to use to hype up a shoe and promote the star player. They talk a bit about what happened to that model and if it will ever come back.
Air Jordan, of course, changed the basketball shoe game and hasn’t really let go of it since launching. Russ explains why it had to be Michael Jordan as the one to change the shoe game, why it couldn’t have been Magic Johnson or Larry Bird, and what it has meant for every other shoe manufacturer since.
Finally, Vince and Russ talk about current basketball sneakers. The ones coming out now, signature shoes for young players that are still in the league, and why consumers should be buying them instead of getting in line for retro or classic shoes from 30-40 years ago.