Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, and the NBA is always ready to celebrate it in style with their annual tradition of Christmas sneakers.
For one day of the year, all rules are off the court when it comes to basketball uniform shoes – and players take the opportunity to get funky fresh with their feet.
This year was no exception, and floors across the country found themselves decorated with fun balling sneakers in the true spirit of Christmas.
1. Joel Embiid wore mismatched Under Armour UA Hovr Havoc 2 sneakers Joel brought his A+ shoes and game to Philadelphia 76ers Christmas Day game against the Milwaukee Bucks, helping his team sweet through victoriously by shooting 31 points to win in just 28 minutes. But the real star of this show were his Under Armour UA Hovr Havoc 2 sneakers, which were festively mismatched – one green, one red.
2. Gordon Hawyward in the ANTA GH1 “Ugly Sweater”
3. LeBron James repped both the Nike LeBron 17 “More Than an Athlete” AND the “China Moon” Nike LeBron 7 Because how could he resist his own namesake.
4. PJ Tucker in the Nike KD 12 “Aunt Pearl” PJ laced up his fellow Texas Longhorn alum’s shoes, made in honor of Durant’s late aunt who battled cancer.
5. P.J. Tucker Air Jordan 4 “Wahlburger” Houston Rockets forward repped the iconic shoe made for legendary actor Mark Wahlberg and the Wahlberg family. These shoes run for about $15,000.
6. Giannis Antetokounmpo Nike Zoom Freak 1 “Soul Glo” The shoes on Antetokounmpo’s feet this Christmas were the second release of the Hollywood-inspired Nike Zoom Freak shoe. Based on the MVP’s favorite movie, “Coming to America,” the style and name play off of the “Soul Glo” commercial from the movie, which was a hair product frequently used to keep popular Jheri-style curls intact.
7. Marcus Smart in Puma Clyde Hardwood Custom Hardwood by Sierato allowed artist Sierato to design many pairs with holiday-themed imagery.
8. Jamal Murray in custom Adidas Pro Model 2G
9. Leonard donned the “Money Stacks” New Balance OMN1S. The message wasn’t subtle, and the crowd loved it.
A dog can definitely help lift the spirits of their owner, and vice versa! But what happens when a dog ends up in the hands of a new owner but wishes that they were in the arms of their previous one?
He Was About To Give Up
It was a tough situation for Anthony and his dog. Convinced that things wouldn’t work out, he still decided to give it two weeks. This is because the shelter suggested this might be how long it takes for the dog to adjust to his new environment. However, something unexpected happened. The man found a letter that the owner had left behind with the dog. Surely enough, the note ended up changing not just the dog’s life, but also Anthony’s…
Call Me Reggie
Despite only having moved to the area six months beforehand, Anthony knew that he had moved to a very friendly college town. From the get-go, the people were incredibly hospitable and no matter what time of day he walked down the road, people would say “hello.” However, he was single and wanted some company at home, in some shape or form. As a result, he decided to get himself a dog and thankfully for him, the local animal shelter put a Labrador called Reggie up for adoption…
Having just seen an ad for Reggie in the newspaper, Anthony was surprised to be informed by the local shelter that a number of people had already considered adopting Reggie. However, they ultimately decided that he was not a good fit for them. Anthony, on the other hand, knew in an instant that Reggie was the dog for him. Interestingly enough, Reggie’s previous owner had left behind a dog bed, a food bowl, toys and a mysterious sealed letter…
Taking Him Home
During that first trip back home, Anthony was worried about Reggie. Every little thing he did was a new experience for the dog, who was shaking with every turn. The one little thing that kept him at ease was a tennis ball that he enjoyed sinking his teeth into. Other than that though, it was clear as day that Reggie was not enjoying this trip away from the shelter. Anthony was hopeful that the dog would settle in once he arrived home…
First Day Is Always The Hardest
They say that the first time is always the hardest, and this could not have been truer as far as Anthony and Reggie were concerned. The young man literally had to carry the dog through the door, he was so scared. Then, during the entire evening, Reggie hid in the corner, with his entire body shaking. He looked like he was freezing to death. Really though, it was just a poor lab who was in an unfamiliar place…
Despite adopting him in that moment, Anthony later admitted that things weren’t easy with Reggie at first. “I was expecting a super happy dog, one who would be excited to see me and who would want to play and cuddle more,” he said. “I found it hard to adjust to the new town as well as a new dog. I was still lonely and it seemed like Reggie wasn’t happy either. I bought him new toys, but that didn’t change anything.”
It Was In His Eyes
As he looked into the dog’s eyes, Anthony could tell that there was deep sadness there that wasn’t going away anytime soon. He must’ve experienced some sort of trauma. But the people at the shelter had no idea what had happened to him. All Anthony could do was give him everything he needed – such as food, water, walks and attention, and then some. As time went on, he tried to figure out what must’ve happened to the poor dog…
What Was Wrong?
With each passing day, Anthony saw clearer and clearer that Reggie wasn’t doing well. Even the simplest commands that Anthony assumed Reggie would follow were impossible for him to perform, like sitting and staying. Even when Anthony called his name, Reggie wouldn’t respond. For the most part, Reggie seemed like a lost soul who didn’t know where his place was in the world. Anthony thought that he might be doing something terribly wrong. But what could it possibly be?
Two weeks passed, and it was finally time for Anthony to decide what to do with Reggie. “I was a little strict with him, and he disliked it, I could tell,” he said. “When the two weeks were up, I felt it was time and that I had to take him back. I knew the number for the shelter would be amongst his old stuff, and I remembered leaving it there in one of the boxes in the guest room.”
While perusing through Reggie’s things, Anthony finally noticed the strange envelope that the previous owner had left behind. Amazingly, when Reggie saw Anthony looking through his old stuff, he actually got excited because he was reminded fondly of the past. The envelope stared Anthony in the face, as if it just wanted to be opened. It was almost as if Reggie was urging Anthony to read what had come with him. However, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to read it…
Unlocking The Past
Nervous to read the contents inside the envelope, Anthony finally got the nerve to recite the words that were on the letter. “To whoever gets my dog: Well, I can’t say that I’m happy you’re reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie’s new owner,” the person wrote. “I’m not even happy writing it. If you’re reading this, it means I just got back from my last car ride with my Lab after dropping him off at the shelter.”
Anthony continued to read the letter. “He knew something was different. I have packed up his bed and toys before and set them by the back door before a trip, but this time, it’s like he could sense that something was wrong,” he read. “It’s sad for me, but that is why I have decided to write this letter. So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you.”
Learning About Reggie
The previous owner spoke highly of Reggie. “First, he loves tennis balls, and he loves to hoard them. He usually always had two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there,” he wrote. “It doesn’t matter where you throw them; he’ll jump right after, so be careful- really don’t do it by any roads. I nearly made that mistake once. Next, commands. Maybe the shelter staff already told you, but I’ll go over them again: Reggie knows the obvious ones- sit, stay, come, heel.”
It was clear that the previous owner gave Reggie some form of training. “He knows hand signals: ‘back’ to turn around and go back when you put your hand straight up; and ‘over’ if you put your hand out right or left,” he wrote. “‘Shake’ for shaking the water off and ‘paw’ for a high- five. He does ‘down’ when he feels like lying down…He knows ball and food and bone and treats like nobody’s business. I trained Reggie with small food treats.”
He Hates The Vet
The previous owner also shared a fact that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. “Be forewarned: Reggie doesn’t like the vet,” he wrote. “Good luck getting him in the car – I don’t know exactly how he knows when it’s time for him to go to the vet, but he can somehow sense it.” Let’s face it: which dog or cat actually likes going to vet? Nevertheless, it was nice to get a heads up!
Keep Him Close
The writer also made it clear to give Reggie lots of attention. “Finally, be patient with him. I have never been married, so it’s only been me in his whole life. He’s used to going everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can,” he wrote. “He loves to be around people, especially me. Which means this transition is going to be hard with him going to live with someone new.”
Then, Anthony learned something truly shocking: the dog isn’t actually called Reggie! “I don’t know what made me do it exactly, but when I dropped him off at the shelter, I just told them his name was Reggie,” he wrote. “He’s a clever dog; he’ll get used to it and will respond eventually. But I couldn’t bear to give them his real name. For me to do that, it would feel so final and binding, that handing him over was admitting that I’d never see him again.”
Anthony Deserves To Know
Anthony realized that the owner must’ve been in so much pain writing this letter. “If someone else might be reading it, well, it means that his new owner ought to know his real name. It’ll help you bond with him, and him with you,” he wrote. “Who knows, maybe you’ll even notice a change in him if he’s been difficult. And that’s why I need to share one more thing with you…” Then, Anthony read something truly shocking…
Call Me Tank
Anthony was in for a big surprise. “His real name is Tank because that’s what I drive. I told the shelter that they couldn’t put ‘Reggie’ up for adoption until they received word from my commander,” he wrote. “There was no one I could’ve left Tank with. It was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq that they make one phone call to shelter in the ‘event of…’ To tell them Tank could be put for adoption.”
It was clear that the previous owner had made an incredibly tough decision letting Tank go for adoption. With each passing sentence, the letter became more and more tragic. “Well, this letter is getting depressing, even though, I am just writing it for my dog,” he wrote. “But dogs can be like family and he has been with me for the past six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family.” The waterworks just kept on coming…
The writer learned a valuable lesson from this experience. “That unconditional love from a dog is what I will take with me to Iraq as an inspiration to do something selfless, to protect innocent people from those who would do terrible things,” he wrote. “If I had to give up Tank to do it, I’m glad to have done so. He was my example of service and love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.”
Thanks A Lot
The writer thanked Anthony for taking Tank. “I don’t think I can bear another goodbye to Tank, though. I cried so much the first time; maybe I’ll peek in on him and see if he finally managed to get that third tennis ball in his mouth,” he wrote. “All the best of luck with Tank. Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight- every night- from me. Thank you, Paul Mallory.” Then, Anthony had an epiphany…
Remembering A Hero
There is no denying that Paul Mallory was a name that Anthony would never forget. In fact, he had already heard the name before during his first few months in the town. Sadly, Paul ended up dying in service during deployment in Iraq. He was on a mission trying to save three soldiers. Paul even received a Silver Star posthumously for his heroic efforts. Anthony then broke into tears and all he could do was look at Tank…
Who Was This Man?
As he started to look at Tank, he thought about Paul and realized there was so much more to him than just the fact that he was a soldier. Sure, he had given his life for his country. But this was a man, who had lost his life and his loss must have broken many people’s hearts. He started to wonder what Paul must’ve liked. What were his passions? What did he believe in? One thing was for sure: he loved Tank.
At that moment, Anthony said the following two words: “Hey, Tank.” It seems like that was all it took for the dog to perk up and take notice of his new owner. Tank ran over to Anthony in an instant. His tail was wagging as Anthony gave him a soft embrace and petted his head. Now that Tank felt safe with his new owner, he was more than happy to play ball with Anthony. Things would never be the same after that moment…
Everything seemed to fall into place after Anthony realized what Tank had been through all this time. He knew deep in his heart that he needed to keep the dog and care for him. That’s ultimately what Paul wanted. “I can only hope and pray that you make him part of your family and that he will adapt and come to love you the same way he loved me,” he wrote. If it wasn’t for Tank, then it had to be for Paul…
Life Full Of Fun
It didn’t take long before Anthony earned Tank’s trust and it was clear that he reminded Tank of his previous owner. He would take him out to the park and let him roam free. He had no worry that Tank would run away as he knew he’d return to him safe sound. The black lab loved nothing more than playing with his toys and living a simple life, knowing that someone was always watching over him. Paul would be proud.
Soldier’s Best Friend
Paul is just one of many soldiers who didn’t have someone close who could take care of their dog during deployment. However, there are some organizations that focus on making sure that dogs that belong to soldiers find a safe home in good time. Some of these include Dogs On Deployment and Guardian Angels For Soldier’s Pet. This won’t be the last time soldier’s dog desperately needs a home. If only there were more people like Anthony around…