Arkansas Men’s Basketball head coach Eric Musselman has elevated his shoe game this season, rocking custom painted Nikes. Most of the craftsmanship has come from the hands of Marla Burleson.
“She amazing and really, really creative. I think it’s been really fun,” says Musselman when asked about Burleson.
“I don’t do airbrush,” says Marla Burleson, “they are all hand painted, so I have to use all the little brushes and take my time to execute the little details.”
Burleson’s son in law, Mike Ekanam, is the team’s Director of Player Development. He thought she would be perfect for the job.
“All of a sudden he called and said ‘Hey we are sending you some shoes,’ and so I did a few. Then got a box with a lot of shoes in it, and so I knew that he at least liked them,” jokes Burleson.
“She is an incredible artist and to think that she can do some of the designs that she does on a show is pretty mindboggling,” adds Musselman.
She’s given a theme, then has complete creative freedom to create each individual design.
“Automatically then I start thinking ‘Oh, I could do this here. This could go on the front. Maybe this could be a cute little saying on the back.’ I just really start brainstorming the minute I talk to him.”
Living in Texas, most of the shoes she’s done she’s had plenty of time to complete and mail back. There was only one instance where she had quickly turn a pair around.
“The only one we had a time crunch on was the new recruits because he shipped them to me overnight, and I had to get them done in a day and ship them out,” says Burleson.
:When I saw it on Twitter, I think I texted Jordan and was like “do you see this?'” adds 5-star signee Nick Smith Jr.
It’s grabbing commits attention, fans attention, social media’s attention, and even the players.
“Before the game the other night, KK Robinson looked down and was like ‘dang coach, those are tough.'” says Muss.
It’s been a great partnership between the two. Burleson gets to see her art on TV and Muss gets to make a statement.
“We are just trying to promote our program, and trying to be creative and stay ahead of the curve. Do some things before other teams start copying it,” continues Muss.
Burleson and Muss tell us, stay tuned. They’ve got some great ones to debut later in the season.