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UK Shoegate: The Story Behind Those Bright, Mismatched Shoes

If you’re a follower of Kentucky basketball, you have probably noticed some of the players wearing bright, mismatched, multi-colored sneakers. They are the Nike Kyrie 4 in the “Confetti” colorway, created as a reminder of the 2017 NBA Finals, when Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Golden State Warriors in five games.

“As the confetti rained down on Kyrie’s shoulders at the conclusion of last year’s Finals, he didn’t feel a sense of elation and joy like he did in 2016. To this day, he carries around a piece of the confetti from the postgame celebration as a constant reminder of what it took to get to the Finals, and how it felt to fall short of the goal. Kyrie 4 “Confetti” honors Kyrie’s win-or-learn mentality and the memento that reminds him of the incredible experience he can learn from.” [Nike]

Irving’s “win or learn” mentality sounds familiar; John Calipari has said it many times this season, although I doubt that’s why the Kyrie line of shoes are seen so regularly in UK games. Irving’s shoes are one of Nike’s most popular collections, along with the Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and now Paul George signature lines.

Many versions of the Kyrie 4 have appeared on the court this season, including a customized University of Kentucky version of the shoe that was given to each player for Christmas. The special UK edition was hand-painted by True Blue Customs and presented to the team after their annual holiday party.

But it is the ‘Confetti’ colorway that really catches the eye and has many fans up in arms about players wearing shoes that do not match their teammates’ shoes or the school’s official colors — or even matching the left to the right.

Keldon Johnson was the first to break them out in a home game against VMI, then again in a three-game stretch against Utah, North Carolina and Louisville, and again in back-to-back games against Vanderbilt and Georgia. Once Johnson began to wear them, three of his teammates also caught on and have worn them in multiple games throughout SEC play.

Realizing he was the pioneer of the trend, Johnson acknowledged he was the first to wear the Confettis but doesn’t consider himself a trendsetter within the UK locker room.

“I wouldn’t say I’m a trendsetter, but everybody’s wearing them now,” he said, when I asked if he is a leader in fashion. “I don’t really mind. It’s just a shoe, to be honest.”

Johnson downplayed any deep thought process, strategy or superstition behind picking his game shoe, saying he simply decides on a shoe based on however he’s feeling that day, and that the shoe doesn’t make the player.

“The shoe is not going to give you powers or nothing like that,” he said. “You still gotta go out there and get it done.”

However, when asked specifically about the eye-catching Kyrie 4 Confetti and if they possess any magical powers, he told KSR, “It’s a little bit of magic on them. It’s something about them.”

Let’s look at the numbers to see if the shoes really possess special powers or if Johnson is right in saying it doesn’t matter.

To do so, I split Johnson’s game log into two different charts: games without and with the Kyrie 4 Confetti on his feet:

His overall scoring is about the same, but his three-point shooting is much better in the six Confetti games, rising from 32.5 percent to an astounding 54.2 percent from outside. Rebounding is way down, but it’s worth noting Kentucky is 6-0 when Johnson wears the Confettis and 10-3 when he does not.

Now let’s take a look at Johnson’s roommate, Tyler Herro, who has worn the Confettis in three games.

Herro’s overall scoring is up by a little more than a point, but his three-point shooting did not change. And like Johnson, Kentucky is undefeated when Herro wears the Confettis with two of those wins coming against ranked teams.

Nick Richards and Ashton Hagans are the only two other players who have worn the Confettis this season. Richards wore them in consecutive road games at Georgia and Auburn, while Hagans wore them in the following game against Mississippi State in Rupp Arena. Overall, Kentucky is 9-0 when the Confettis appear in a game and 7-3 when they do not.

So will others join the trend?

Not Reid Travis. That’s for sure.

Travis said, “That’s not really my style, but I like them on Keldon. I know a few guys that have kind of rotated those in and out. I like them, but not for me.”

Now let’s get your opinion on the shoes.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

17 Comments for UK Shoegate: The Story Behind Those Bright, Mismatched Shoes



  1. Mike Honcho
    2:19 pm January 29, 2019 Permalink

    I think it’s a terrible travesty that these men should disrespect my Lord and savior (Jesus H. Christ) by revealing so much of their skin in the first place. How vain are these young men to cut sleeves off their shirts to show off their fat juicy tatted arm muscles? The only way we can play without disrespecting God is to wear fully immersive blue and white burlap bags with eye holes cut out. Anything else is a sin worthy of eternal damnation! Thanks for reading my column



    • Parker_UKFanNC
      2:28 pm January 29, 2019 Permalink

      Satire good stuff



    • bigbluebanana
      3:14 pm January 29, 2019 Permalink

      Lol. I was scared for a second as the start of your satirical comment is absolutely the way one or two people around here would start a serious argument.



    • cats646
      4:47 pm January 29, 2019 Permalink

      I actually thought you were serious for a second. Ha



  2. ClutchCargo
    2:35 pm January 29, 2019 Permalink

    The shoes are the very last thing that I notice, if I notice them at all.



  3. a21CATSfan
    2:40 pm January 29, 2019 Permalink

    Several players wore this shoe last season. Nick Richards and Shai, for sure, maybe Hami. CATS



    • KYintheNC
      6:23 am January 30, 2019 Permalink

      They were actually only sold on Nike.com for kids. Of course basketball players have been able to get their hands on these. The shoes were Kyrie’s Christmas shoe 2017.



  4. ukkatzfan
    2:58 pm January 29, 2019 Permalink

    A shoe collection by any male is weird.



    • Kernel Sanders
      3:15 pm January 29, 2019 Permalink

      Obsession with athletic shoes by anyone over 12 years old is beyond weird



  5. lexcatfan2367
    3:56 pm January 29, 2019 Permalink

    Just because they like having nice shoes doesn’t make them weird. Worrying about what 18-23 yr olds wear during a college basketball game makes you weird.



  6. CoachCat
    4:26 pm January 29, 2019 Permalink

    Those multi colored shoes look about as bad as the orange shoes the girls are going to wear



  7. cats646
    4:48 pm January 29, 2019 Permalink

    I think these shoes are horribly ugly but as long as we are winnin I don’t give a damn if they wear flip flops. Go cats!!



  8. kellywjohnson
    5:12 pm January 29, 2019 Permalink

    Wear blue and white shoes! I don’t care if the are the Pope Francis XVVVVVIIIIXCCCCLI model. JUST WEAR BLUE AND WHITE!!



    • 4everUKblue
      5:59 pm January 29, 2019 Permalink

      And get off my lawn!



    • bigbluebanana
      7:11 pm January 29, 2019 Permalink

      Why? This isn’t the 70’s, 80’s, or even 90’s. Shoes are a HUUUUGE deal to these kids and the Nike swag is partly why most of these kids choose their respective schools (see recent scandals). If a kid is into shoes and style, and if they like them, why does this matter. It’s a game, not the US military, everybody doesn’t have to roll with standard issue dress.



  9. friendsofcoal
    6:05 pm January 29, 2019 Permalink

    Not crazy about a basketball shoe thing but don’t mention my boot collection!



    • bigbluebanana
      7:08 pm January 29, 2019 Permalink

      Lol! I recently bought a pair of Tecovas. I’m probably obviously not a cowboy boot guy, but these are very stylish, comfortable, durable, and inexpensive! Couldn’t resist.