Kevin Durant‘s fourth signature sneaker—the Nike KD4—took a while to make its way to the NBA hardwood. Back in the summer of 2011, the lockout was in full swing meaning there was no NBA action. So Durant and other superstars hit up rec leagues, parks and pro-ams to destroy people. That summer felt like one long pickup game. While it sucked that the League and the Player’s Association took so long to come to an agreement on the CBA, it was honestly basketball heaven.
Durant was on the frontier of the pickup games back then. He was in DC, LA, OKC and up at NYC’s famed Rucker Park, putting on a show everywhere he went—his performance at Rucker is the stuff legends are made of.
As the summer wound down, KD started to breakout his fourth signature and immediately caught the attention of sneakerheads. For a September charity game in OKC, KD laced up the “Nerf” KD4. The colorway was ridiculous. It had paint splatters on the tongue, a purple upper and splashes of light green and red. And the inspiration was easy to relate to. Who hasn’t played with Nerf guns?
When the two sides finally came to an agreement and players suited up on Christmas Day, KD and Nike started to roll out more looks. It turned out the “Nerf” was just the beginning for a season of incredible colorways. The “Weatherman” joints became highly sought after. His All-Star Game version, the “Galaxy,” sold out immediately. There was the blue “Year of the Dragon,” the mint green “Easter,” the “Copper” colorway he wore on Christmas.
The low-cut 4 eventually made its way to the 2012 Finals, receiving gold colorways for both the road and home. Then it was in the 2012 Olympics in a clean USA-themed adaptation.
The shortened 2011 season saw Durant average 28 points per game, best in the League. He made the most field goals and free throws, scored the most points, was named All-Star Game MVP and got selected to All-NBA First Team. Then that summer he set the mark for most points ever scored in USA Olympic history, scoring 156 total points in eight games.
He did it all in the KD4.
The sneaker was built with the Swoosh’s Hyperfuse technology. Hyperfuse combines synthetic material in the bottom layer, mesh in the middle and TPU finishing on the top, making for a supportive and firm skeleton. Leo Chang, the designer of all 10 of KD’s signature looks, also used a Zoom Air unit and Nike’s Adaptive Fit tech, which was complemented by the big strap across the forefoot. It all added up to create a snug on-court sneaker and a neck-breaking off-court silhouette.
“The conversation’s been had before,” Chang said. “For me it always starts with the championship. You’ve gotta win a ring before we talk about the retro thing. That’s definitely a conversation we’ll have with KD.”
Scroll through the gallery up top to see the KD4 in action.
Max Resetar is an Associate Editor at SLAM. Follow him on Twitter @maxresetar. Photos via Getty Images