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Inside Access: Nike Basketball’s Design Minds


Quality design lies at the core of Nike Basketball. A collective team of designers are creating the future now.

Nike Basketball is charting a new path in product innovation. Celebrating the brand’s 40-year history in basketball with a nostalgic look back is not a top priority. The future is now, and the goal remains to deliver trailblazing product design that accelerates the game.

With the 2013 basketball season tipping off, the game is experiencing growth and popularity exceeding its global expansion of the early 1990s. Basketball is hot. An estimated 15% of the world’s population plays the sport. Product innovation continues to fuel a lifestyle and Nike Basketball takes its role in the sport very seriously.


With a group of pioneering designers, Nike Basketball operates as a collective team. The team builds on each other’s creative juices. From footwear to apparel, to accessories and equipment, the team thrives as an extremely connected unit.

Armed with diverse design experience across a variety of industries – automobiles, toys, furniture, luggage, and more – the Nike Basketball design unit builds on and learns from each other’s expertise.


Leo ChangAs Footwear Design Director, Leo Chang leads a team of designers who obsess the details – performance, color, graphics, storytelling, you name it. This team comes to work each day ready to raise the bar. With 12 years of experience at Nike, Chang’s path began as a designer with Nike Running. His passion for hoops brought him to basketball footwear in 2007 where he began designing Kevin Durant’s signature footwear line. Chang and his team are introducing product that has completely elevated expectations for what’s possible in basketball shoes.


Michelle WalterThe basketball uniform has evolved – from the patterns, to materials, to construction and graphics. Led by Nike Basketball’s Apparel Design Director Ryan Aanderud, the apparel design team works on a variety of projects that include collegiate uniforms, outdoor apparel, and signature products for some of the world’s top athletes such as for Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and LeBron James.

The apparel design team challenges convention with new materials, fabrications, and altogether new products. Senior Designer Michelle Walter, who has worked closely with Kobe Bryant over the past eight years, shapes the industry standard with technically superior product based on insights from the one of the game’s best players.


​Hrag Nassanian​Designing products that athletes never knew existed is the goal of Hrag Nassanian, Senior Bags Designer, who works on conceptualizing the best bags working closely with basketball’s elite athletes including Bryant, Durant and James. From overall fit and materials to finishing – the form and function design mantra lives at the core of Nassanian’s design philosophy, based on his decade of experience working at Nike as a designer.


There is no crystal ball floating around the hands of the Nike Basketball Design Team. The mandate to create future design happens every day. The process is continual. The team is not holding back innovative product for an unveil moment – they are making the future happen now.

All designers including Leo, Ryan, Michelle and Hrag are creating innovative and inspirational product for Nike Basketball. Functional performance design lies at the core of the products, while innovative fabrication, materials, colors and stories bring products to life. Living proof includes Nike Basketball’s latest products available now: the Kobe Outdoor Tech Jacket, KD VI Shoe and LeBron Soldier Backpack.

“Inside Access” is a series providing an inside look at Nike Basketball through the lens of events, innovation and athletes. Look for new features the first Tuesday of each month throughout the basketball season.


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