-- It has become a tradition. When USA Basketball team photos are taken, the feet of the players who aren't wearing shoes with Nike swooshes are obscured.
This year's photo was released on Monday, and it was no surprise that the feet of Harrison Barnes, Kyle Lowry and Klay Thompson were hidden. Barnes and Lowry are Adidas spokesmen, while Thompson reps Chinese brand Anta.
Before social media was the rage, the 2008 picture became a huge buzz item.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski was sitting, and his foot blocked the logo of the only guy ( Dwight Howard) who was wearing Adidas. And Howard, who for some reason was out of height order with Chris Bosh, was holding the basketball so that he covered the swoosh on his shorts. For housekeeping purposes, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul were with Jordan, which is owned by Nike, and Dwyane Wade was wearing Converse, also owned by Nike.
Fast-forward to 2012, when the one non-Nike guy was Kevin Love. The year before, Love signed a contract with Chinese shoe brand 361 Degrees. Where was Love in the official picture? Hidden behind Kobe Bryant and Tyson Chandler.
The Olympic shoe wars started in earnest in 1992 when Michael Jordan said for weeks he wouldn't wear the medal-stand jacket sponsored by Reebok. When the Dream Team won gold, the three non-Reebok spokesmen -- MJ, Magic Johnson (Converse) and Charles Barkley -- zipped down their jackets and famously put a towel over the Reebok logo.
Nike has been the official partner of USA Basketball since 2006. Since then, 86 percent of the players on the men's U.S. Olympic teams (31 of 36) have been Nike spokesmen.