New Balance Basketball might be the sleeper brand for hoopers everywhere

New Balance is on the rise, and their heightened focus on basketball might get pros and average joes turning heads.

Philadelphia 76ers v Washington Wizards
Philadelphia 76ers v Washington Wizards / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

Call them what you want, "dad shoes" or not, New Balance is in the midst of a brand renaissance. More specifically, their New Balance Basketball division is quietly picking up steam amongst prominent pro athletes and amateurs alike.

Taking the throne as the face of New Balance Basketball has been 2x NBA Finals MVP and 2x Defensive Player of the Year, Kawhi Leonard. Signing with the brand in 2018 as a member of the Toronto Raptors, Kawhi's eventual capture of a second championship spring boarded his New Balance products to heightened levels of popularity. 2019 was Kawhi's year and you could tell with his minimalist, yet highly sought-after "Fun Guy" and "Board Man Gets Paid" apparel.

Kawhi Leonard's superstardom helped put New Balance Basketball on the map.

New Balance and the "Klaw" also collaborated on some basketball footwear, where Leonard had his first signature set of shoes, the OMN1s released during 2019 All-Star weekend. To date, Kawhi has had four sets of basketball models released with New Balance, with another one, the Kawhi 4's set to release later in 2024. But it's not just the "Fun Guy" who represents the New Balance Basketball brand, there's also 2024 World Champion, Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets.

Murray was signed to the brand back in late 2020, with the New Balance Two Wxy model being largely associated with the Canadian guard. Murray's affiliation with the New Balance brand was on full display as he graced the cover of SLAM KICKS magazine back in August 2023. Following his team's championship victory in the 2023 NBA Finals, Murray got his own commemorative championship tee ala Kawhi Leonard, the aptly designed "Playoff, Finals, Champion Murray".

New Balance Basketball also has endorsements with former All-Star of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Darius Garland, fringe All-Star from the Atlanta Hawks, Dejounte Murray, ex Bulls All-Star, Zach Lavine, Pacers 3-and-D wing, Aaron Nesmith, and NIL (Next in Line) athlete out of Stanford, Cameron Brink. The NIL deal with Brink was especially historic as she became the first female basketball player to sign with the brand.

Time will only tell how much bigger the New Balance Basketball brand will grow. Whether it's their basketball shoes performing to high standards or their athlete-affiliated apparel becoming hot streetwear trends, there are a lot of eyes on NB Hoops and the brand will surely continue to sign more prominent athletes in the years to come.