Listen, I’m not a tall guy. I stand 5’6 maybe 5’7 if my hair counts and it’s combed. I wear a size 8.5 shoe. I can walk into any shoe store in America and find a wide variety of shoes in my size. Running shoes? You’re darn right. Basketball shoes? Of course. Dress shoes? Absolutely. Never had a problem.
My grandpa though had a big problem with shoes. I obviously didn’t inherit his height but he was a tall man. He worse size 15 shoes and had all kinds of difficulty in finding shoes that were both the right size and comfortable. I remember it being a constant struggle for him. Until Stephon Marbury came along. Yes, that Stephan Marbury. You may recall that Marbury put out his own signature shoe, the Starbury, that was both relatively cheap for a signature shoe as well as available in a wide variety of sizes. My grandpa couldn’t pick Stephan Marbury out of a lineup that included just two people. Not a chance. He didn’t know who he was or care who he was. He just knew that the shoes fit him and they wear comfortable. I remember he would buy multiple pairs at a time for fear of them no longer being around.
Why am I telling you all this? Well, there’s a reason I promise. Jeff Goodman wrote an excellent article that appeared on Watch Stadium this week. It was all about Zach Edey and was more than just your surface level puff piece about how Edey used to play hockey, and baseball, sure that’s in there too but it’s more than that. It’s about how Zach Edey came to be the Zach Edey we know today. It’s about why he never wanted to play basketball and what dashed his dreams of playing both hockey and baseball. Everyone’s favorite team mom Julia Edey is quoted and mentioned and honestly who can ever have too much Momma Edey in their life? It’s a great article and I recommend everyone read it.
What got me though was a brief section at the end. Zach Edey wears a size 20 shoe. That’s 5 sizes bigger than my grandpa who had so much trouble finding shoes. Who wore shoes that would often make his toes hurt because they were too small, or just walk around in his Starbury’s that he loved. Five whole sizes. Compare your shoe size to a shoe size five sizes smaller and you’ll get an idea of just how much of a difference five sizes can mean.
You might remember that Purdue played in a Phil Knight tournament earlier this year. You might also remember reports from that event said that Zach Edey asked Phil Knight to send him some size 20 shoes but no commitment was made. (It was in The Athletic so yes there’s a paywall but the folks over there do a great job.) The article described Edey’s shoes as “beat to all hell”. Edey wears Nike Zoom Rise 2’s in the aforementioned size 20. Apparently they discontinued these shoes and, according to Goodman, Edey has been wearing the same shoes since summer workouts. He simply can’t find anything comfortable that will meet his needs.
For someone like my grandpa it was annoying but later on in his life he wasn’t out hustling every day. He was mostly sitting in his chair, walking down to the neighbors, walking around the local F&F or picking up a pizza at Pizza King. He wasn’t out there dragging Hunter Dickinson up and down the court for 30+ minutes a night. Grandpa’s shoes weren’t that important in the grand scheme of things. Zach Edey’s are.
Four years ago Nike found themselves in an awful PR situation when then Duke star Zion Williamson had his Nike shoes blow-out on him during a game causing an injury. It wasn’t a good look for Nike, though I’m still not clear if the injury was because of the shoes but the fact that I have doubts isn’t good for an athletic shoe brand. I would imagine that Nike wants to avoid the frontrunner for National Player of the Year getting injured due to a shoe blowing out because it had been worn for too long. That would be a bad look.
Purdue is a Nike school. They have been for years. Purdue has been getting much better gear from Nike as of late and I’m sure being the #1 team in the nation helps grab the attention of the folks in Beaverton. But for whatever reason Zach Edey’s pleas remain unanswered. He still remains in the same shoes that were “beat to all hell” in November. It’s early February now. Purdue finds themselves in a position they’ve never been in before. Unprecedented if you will, though the last 3 years have made me hate that word. Purdue needs to do everything they can to ensure the health and safety of everyone on the roster. That includes making sure that Zach Edey has a veritable gauntlet of available shoes should something happen. I don’t know who I need to contact at Nike or how we can make this happen but if you’re reading this (to paraphrase the great Chadwick Boseman in Avengers: Infinity War) “Get this man some shoes!”