Today in Sneaker History Paul George triumphantly returned to basketball on the world’s grandest stage – the 2016 Olympic Games. Two summers prior George suffered a catastrophic leg injury during an exhibition game for Team USA on a routine layup play. We won’t show it to you out of respect to PG, but if you Google it then be warned, it’s nasty AF. The injury almost ended PG’s career; elite NBA talent rightfully took notice, and from that point forward some of the league’s best have sat out international play. We’ll save that conversation for another day as America should be able to easily dominate international basketball without perennial All-Stars and league MVPs.
Without digressing any further, let us take a look back at Paul George’s 2016 Olympic run with Team USA and the Hyperdunks he wore throughout.
Welcome Back, Paul
Many thought Paul George shouldn’t participate in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games because it could expose possible holes in his game post-recovery. What if PG got burnt on defense repeatedly? What if he lost a step on offense? Skeptics feared George’s game would fall off…
Critics shut up quick once Paul took the court. He served as Team USA’s defensive stopper, locking down star opponents with tenacious defense. Homeboy brought the clamps.
Paul put up 18 points in his first game of basketball for Team USA post-injury during an exhibition game against Argentina.
Everything appeared to be business as usual with Paul getting buckets from all three levels of the game (inside, outside and driving). With that said, Paul George didn’t have to do much scoring because of walking buckets like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Carmelo Anthony as teammates – he just flowed within the offense and chose his spots wisely. Throughout Team USA’s 8-0 Gold Medal run PG put up a respectable 11.3 PPG with 1.5 SPG (steals per-game).
No lie though, this happened… which was a little embarrasing, but it’s important to note that his shoe’s exceptional grip seemed to cause the fall more than anything…
Hyperdunking On The Competiton
On-foot, George rocked Nike Basketball’s (then) latest Hyperdunk iteration – the Hyperdunk 2016 Flyknit.
These bad boys were the first Hyperdunks in the line’s rich history to sport Flyknit construction; they utilized a customizable ankle system that allowed wears to roll the sock-like ankle bootie up or down to fit personal preferences. While on the topic of fit, the Hyperdunk 2016 Flyknits offered fantastic lockdown and feel due to the fully Flyknit upper and Flywire combination. Traction was on point, and Zoom Air gave these kicks the light, springy, feeling the Hyperdunk line was known for too.
After 2015’s less than steller Hyperdunk offering, the 2016 joints went back to the shoe’s roots with a flexible and supportive that killed it in the looks department.
Journey wise, we’re all well aware of PG’s career since the 2016 Olympics. He returned to Indiana and enjoyed a breakout season, successfully traded himself (you read that right, @ me, lol) to the OKC Thunder, and then successfully traded himself once more to the L.A. Clippers this summer. Don’t mistake my phrasing above as hate, I’m a big fan of PG’s game and all for player mobility, so power to him. Since 2016 he’s been an MVP candidate, perineal All-Star and defensive star… not bad for a guy that destroyed only a few seasons prior.
Sneaker wise, Paul George earned a signature line from Nike after years of being a poster child for the Hyperdunk series. His Zoom PG kicks (3 signature shoes, including a 2.5 model) quickly gained popularity with hoopers of all levels and are easily one of the most popular hoops shoes on the market. It’s not crazy to think that PG’s heroic return to basketball at the 2016 Olympics while wearing the Hyperdunk 2016 Flyknits paved the way for his signature line. Much like Kyrie Irving, George’s successful marketing of the Hyperdunk coupled with his fantastic play on-court directly lead to kicks bearing his name.
At the end of the day, Paul George’s return to basketball proved that determination, dedication to rehab, and heart can lead to great things; and for that, we thank you, Paul!
Did you hoop in the Nike Hyperdunk 2016 Flyknits? Tell us in the comments section below!
Las Vegas native living in Portland, OR. Interests include: shoes, sports, music, video games and food. Extremely passionate about Nike and the Lakers. I’ve been collecting shoes for over 15 years! Follow me on IG & Twitter to see my personal collection and if you have questions. #rahbeekicksit