The official USA Men's Basketball team photo is out and ... wait a minute.
Amazing. Nike did it again. Blocked out Barnes & Lowry's adidas and Klay's Antas in the Team USA photo: pic.twitter.com/EMIS6T3i7g— Nick DePaula (@NickDePaula) July 18, 2016
Three players on the team -- Harrison Barnes, Kyle Lowry and Klay Thompson -- wear non-Nike shoes, and all three of them are suspiciously placed in the back. But OK, really, there's nothing suspicious about it, since Nike, which yields huge influence over all of USA Basketball, has been making sure this happens since 2008.
That 2008 team was the most famous example, when Coach K blocked Dwight Howard's Adidas, the only player in the lineup who was blocked. Technically, Wade was wearing Converse, but Nike has owned them since 2003. (Fun game: Can you name the player standing behind Kobe Bryant?)
A USA tradition since 2008, when players lined up in reverse order so Coach K himself could block Dwight's adidas: pic.twitter.com/VKIHe1yH12— Nick DePaula (@NickDePaula) July 18, 2016
(It's Michael Redd.)
Anyway, the Nike control over Team USA runs deep. This doesn't always come up, since Nike has dominated the basketball market until very, very recently, led by the dominance of Under Armour's Stephen Curry. For example, for the 2012 Team USA photo, every participant wore Nike -- even Kevin Love, who was signed to a Chinese shoe deal but cited a "comfort clause" to wear Nike instead. (He received a bonus to wear his Chinese-based brand 361 shoes for the final five games.) Regardless, Love is the only one without shoes visible at all in the 2012 team photo. How convenient!
It may run even deeper than team photos. There's speculation that Candace Parker, the best player on the best team this season in the WNBA, and one of the most famous female athletes of this generation, was left off this year's Team USA women's squad in part because of her Adidas shoe deal.
There were other reasons you can point to, but that it might have even been a small factor is incredible. Whatever the case, this is an incredibly impressive level of pettiness from Nike, a corporation that is worth an estimated $100.1 billion, per Forbes.
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