As Memphis Grizzlies’ Desmond Bane worked on recovering from a frustrating big toe injury earlier this season, he tested various Nike sneakers that could properly support the nagging injury. The shoe that ended up making the most sense for the 24-year-old also happened to be the latest edition of his first-round playoff rival.
After trying on multiple Nike shoes, including Kyrie Irving’s signature Nikes and the Nike Zoom GT series, the best and most comfortable to Bane were the LeBron XX, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
Bad blood between LeBron and Bane
It was quite a decision for the Grizzlies’ second-leader scorer in 2022-23, especially after a shouting match erupted between him and LeBron James during the Lakers-Grizzlies game on Jan. 9, 2022.
“A confrontation between James and Bane during Memphis’ blowout road win over the Lakers on Jan. 9, 2022, can be considered a landmark moment of sorts,” wrote McMahon on Wednesday.
“James, loudly enough to be heard clearly on the television broadcast, chastised Bane for ‘talking s**t.’ Bane barked back, a scene that helped solidify the young, cocky Grizzlies’ status as a team that established NBA veterans loved to loathe.”
James built the bridge
Bane wore the shoe 46 times after returning from the injury, and told ESPN he felt anxiety wearing them against the Lakers for the first time on Jan. 20. But James broke the ice, asking Bane if he had enough of them, and if he needed any more.
“I felt like it was love, for sure,” Bane told ESPN. “We moved on. I think we separated and settled our differences.”
After the Lakers defeated the Grizzlies in Game 1 on Sunday night, LeBron confirmed that his offer to assist Bane was genuine.
“Respect. Respect,” James told ESPN. “I joked about it a few years ago, like, if a guy’s wearing my sneakers I’m going to have to bust your ass and s**t. Like, I’m not even in that type of energy no more, that type of space. I just think that’s super dope. And I got to send some more to him now. I got to make sure he’s a LeBron athlete now.”
Doing what’s best for Bane
Although Bane admits it was a bittersweet development learning that the LeBron XX were the best shoe for him moving forward, he knew playing basketball was more important.
“You know, I got to leave my pride to the side and do what’s best for my body and my career,” he told ESPN.
Game 2 between Desmond Bane’s Grizzlies and LeBron James’ Lakers is set for Wednesday night in Memphis.
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