Why a Utah Jazz assistant has nearly every NBA coach wearing new sneakers

Utah Jazz lead assistant Scott Morrison initiated the effort as part of World Autism Day.

(Photo courtesy Utah Jazz)

Utah Jazz lead assistant coach Scott Morrison never figured he’d be the leader of a fashion trend. In April, that’s exactly what he’s become.

That’s because head coaches from around the NBA — “basically every coach,” Morrison said — will wear customized Nike Air Force 1 07s with a rainbow infinity symbol to promote autism awareness and acceptance for the first week of April. The effort kicked off Tuesday on World Autism Day, when the league’s coaches, including Jazz head coach Will Hardy, wore the shoes for the first time.

The customized Nike Air Force 1 07s that Jazz coach Will Hardy will wear for the first week of April. Each NBA coach has a shoe with their team's colors and the rainbow infinity logo of the To The Max foundation. (Photo courtesy Utah Jazz).

The cause is important to Morrison. His 4-year-old son, Max, was diagnosed with autism in 2022, when Morrison was the head coach of the Perth Wildcats in Australia. Morrison resigned his position there to move back to North America to seek better care for Max.

“It was a gamble, coming back from Australia, because we had no job,” Morrison said. “But it would be more of a gamble to stay for him.”

The Jazz organization offered a solution. Known as one of the strongest U.S. states for autism care, Utah was on Morrison’s radar as a potential job location. Former Jazz forward Joe Ingles reached out, too. His young son, Jacob, was diagnosed with autism in 2019, and so the Ingles had many pointers on guiding a young son after an autism diagnosis, especially in Utah.

In 2022, Hardy offered the position of head coach of the Salt Lake City Stars, which Morrison gladly accepted. This season, he’s now been promoted to the front of the bench for the parent Jazz.

Now in a good position, Morrison wanted to ensure Max’s success reached others, too. So he started the To The Max Foundation, the logo of which is the rainbow infinity design painted on the shoes by Jonathon Millar, of Salt Lake City-based JSM 801 Customs.

Jazz assistant coach Scott Morrison poses with shoe designer Jonathon Millar of 801 JSM Customs. (Photo courtesy Utah Jazz)

At first, just a few head coaches Morrison knew personally were going to wear the shoes, like Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla. (Morrison, a former Celtics assistant, chose Mazzulla to be Max’s godfather.) But soon those Morrison knew encouraged him to take the campaign further. Morrison approached the NBA’s Coaches Association about the idea, and before long, nearly everyone was on board.

“All of a sudden, that became a whirlwind,” Morrison said. “And the more work that everyone did around here, the bigger it became.”

After the week is over, the coaches’ shoes will be auctioned off, with proceeds going to the To The Max Foundation. Morrison hopes the foundation, and this week’s effort, can be the start of a community within the NBA for those who may need support.

“Just from our own experience, it’s nice having people that have gone through it before,” Morrison said. “Not only because they can help you steer in the right direction, but also to know that we’re not the only ones going through this.”