During the hiatus of the 2019-2020 NBA season it was hard to imagine the “Bubble” would have turned out so well. Many visualized it to be glorified pick up games with COVID plucking enough stars to cast doubt on its legitimacy. Certainly no one predicted that the NBA sneaker conversation would center around the HBCU Universe. Tonight that either ends or goes into another stratosphere.
Chris Paul isn’t new to HBCU philanthropy. His contributions to Winston-Salem State University and North Carolina A&T State University have been well documented here. Choosing to wear HBCU paraphernalia isn’t new for Paul either, but there has been something special about taking it to the sneakers.
Anything that touches the body of a NBA superstar quickly becomes the holy grail for fans abound. Head bands, wrist bands, jerseys, socks, shoes, you name it. If it’s been worn by a player of Paul’s caliber, it automatically increases its value.
So as Paul lends his platform, and feet, to the plight of HBCUs, the value can hardly be measured. During the game six elimination matchup between Oklahoma City and Houston, Paul was a literal walking and talking marketing machine.
Marketing Triple Double
He walked into the arena with a vintage Florida A&M shirt before donning a pair of Shaw University inspired shoes for the biggest game of his season. In post game interviews he made sure to mention that one of his opponents, Robert Covington, played his college ball at Tennessee State. Paul had hit a crucial three pointer over Covington late in the game and gave him a playful backside tap while running back up the court. That was the equivalent of a marketing triple double.
The “Bubble” playoff games have been phenomenal and the Thunder story line is one of the major angles thus far. Who knows how many people have seen the likes of Livingstone, Lincoln (MO) and Shaw University featured on Paul’s shoes only to wonder: where is that school? What are they all about? Lending his credibility to these schools with his clothing and shoes is nothing short of a ringing endorsement. All of it is free of charge.
On Wednesday night the Oklahoma City Thunder will either eliminate or have its bubble burst by the Houston Rockets in game seven. Should Paul lead his team to victory, a match up with the Los Angeles Lakers awaits. That would amount to a minimum of four guaranteed prime time games and the benefit of the Lakers’ spotlight. That would be nothing short of a slam dunk for HBCUs everywhere.