by Lang Whitaker

So here it is, your first look at the cover of Kicks issue 9. A few years ago, we did a cover of KICKS that featured Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady and Tim Duncan together, all talking about their then-new shoes from adidas. Now, we’re taking it to the next level. For the new issue of KICKS (issue number 9, officially on newstands August 22) here’s a first look at the cover…

As far as in the magazine, there’s a lot of cool stuff, from Russ’s exclusive Q&A with Kobe Bryant to my cover story to Sam’s story about spending a day in Queensbridge with Ron Artest. (That’s right: Sam, Ron Ron and Queensbridge.) And of course there’s tons of exclusive shoes and stuff throughout.

And while we’re talking exclusive, this cover is a first glance at the five shoes signature shoes adidas is dropping for each of these guys next season. Here are some quick takes from each guy about his shoe. For tons more (images and text), go cop the magazine…

NAME: Tim Duncan
SHOE: The Stealth
“I’ve started to work out in them and they’re very comfortable. I love the look of them. My favorite ones so far are the ones I wore, the very last ones I wore, because I wore them during the season and I got to play in them. Those were awesome, those were great. I like a little ankle support, so probably a little above mid. That’s about it. I just like to be low on the ground. I like to be close to the ground. It improves my speed. (Smiling) I’m a speed guy…as you know.”

NAME: Gilbert Arenas
SHOE: Gil Zero
“It’s a great, great start. It’s probably one of the best shoes I’ve seen in a while. It’s hard to find a shoe everyone likes, and sometimes I guess you just gotta go simple. You know, one that looks like you could wear it with jeans or play. That’s what I like about it. You know, when I, I just thought about, what would I go buy. For the last six years, that’s why I don’t wear basketball shoes. I just don’t like the way they look. Like, I can’t buy a pair of basketball shoes and put ‘em on and wear ‘em at school and look nice, with some jeans with a little polo shirt. That’s the kind of look I wanted in a basketball shoe. ‘Hey, that looks nice with that jersey! That looks nice with those jeans!’”

NAME: Chauncey Billups
SHOE: C-Billups
“I just wanted, I wanted some ankle support in my shoe, and I like to be able to tie my shoe tight, too, because I wear ankle braces too. So I needed it to be kind of roomy in there, I needed it to be so wide because I wear an orthotic. I like how it came out. My favorite thing about them? That they mines, that they mines, you know what I’m saying? I like ‘em, they light, you know what I’m saying, and they’re mine. They’d come to me and ask about different stuff you like. I wore so many different shoes, and I’d like different things — the backs of some shoes, or whatever, a lot of different things.”

NAME: Tracy McGrady
SHOE: T-Mac 6
“I love my shoe, man. It’s comfortable, it’s clean, it’s light. It’s a nice clean look. Real comfortable and supportive. Having my logo and number on there, that’s enough for me. But they added one of my signatures on there, that’s pretty clean right there. Can I tell a difference playing with the new formotion pods? I can. When I’m playing, I can notice a difference. Like, I never seem to turn my foot inside. It’s like a weird feeling man! This part (the arch) hardly ever touches the ground. So I don’t know man, we’ll see.”

NAME: Kevin Garnett
SHOE: KG Bounce 07
“The soles of the shoes have a South Carolina side and I have a Chicago side, and both those sides are just my way of saying thanks to the people that are on that shoe, the people who have been with me since day one, the people who have been through thick and thin with me. Rocky times, tough times, great times, the highlights, that’s just my way of giving a sense of appreciation to South Carolina and Chicago, because I really feel like without one or the other I wouldn’t be sitting here today. I am the way I am because of the things that I know, things that I’ve learned through those two avenues. I wanted to go for something that was different, because my last shoe I went for something that was more of a track shoe, because the Samoa is one of my favorite shoes and I wanted to sort of imply some of that in there. When it came to this shoe I wanted something different. They threw out the Gucci print — the GGGGG, the KKKKK, it was totally different. I love suede on leather. I love a comfortable shoe. I just don’t think a shoe should be build for basketball. I did that with the KG2 and I really wasn’t happy with just the basketball shoe. I like shoes you can rock with jeans. I like a lifestyle shoe.”