Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Interview: Converse, Fashion Week and more

Every night in the NBA, the pregame tunnel becomes more and more of a fashion show. It started in the late 1990s with players like Allen Iverson pushing the limits of league fashion and continued into the next generation with players like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Russell Westbrook and PJ Tucker.

Gilgeous-Alexander is often considered one of the best-dressed players in the NBA, mixing pieces from Louis Vuitton, ERL and more with footwear from Nike, Converse and Jordan. As a Converse athlete, the star point guard has the flexibility to wear various brands of sneakers under the Nike umbrella off the court, which only helps in his ability to be one of the best dressed in the league.

Complex spent a day with Gilgeous-Alexander in Oklahoma City in December during one of her fashion shoots. We talked about the creative freedom Converse gives him, attending Fashion Week, his rise to stardom in the NBA and more.

This conversation has been condensed for clarity.

What was it like to have Converse as a partner? How was it working with them creatively?
It is fun. It really is a partnership. We go back and forth with great communication. It’s really the definition of a partnership and we work together, just trying to make special things happen.

Converse really seems to put a premium on creative freedom. Guys like you and Kelly Oubre Jr. they are some of the most stylish guys in the league. Is this something that really interested you when you decided to become a Converse partner?
Certainly. I wanted someone who would let me be me and express myself through fashion, shoes, clothes, whatever. And they certainly did not disappoint me.

The tunnel before the Shai Gilgeous-Alexander match
Image via Getty Images/Zach Beeker

As a Converse partner, you can wear the likes of Nike and Jordan off the court. Is it a plus for you too?
Yes, absolutely. Obviously those shoes or staples and go-tos for kids all over the world.

Growing up watching the league, who were some of your style inspirations?
Allen Iverson. That’s probably the only one. He was a rule breaker, a pioneer of all of the above.

Are there any specific AI outfits that come to mind when you think about its impact?
The whole baggy vibe. Baggy sweatshirts, swag, chains, jerseys with sweatshirts.

We’ve mentioned the freedom Converse gives you to express your own style, and you’ve shown that in some of the shoes you’ve worked on with them. Can you talk about working on your own branded shoe?
Yes, a dream come true. Obviously, as a child you dream about such things. It’s a surreal feeling to have your print on a shoe and have it your way.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Converse Pro Leather Ox Release Date 172589c Profile
Image via Nike

What are the best Converse shoes you’ve ever worn on the court specifically for basketball purposes?
The newest one [All Star BB Prototype CX] certainly. I feel like they honestly get better every year. But to go back to that partnership we were talking about, I had a couple of ankle injuries last year. These shoes are taller, more stable and good on the ball.

What are the things you look for most when looking for performance from a shoe on the court?
The grip above all. So I can stop and start. And then just a cushion in the shoe so that I feel comfortable and my feet don’t hurt. And then style, three.

What was it like to be a part of Fashion Week, to be a person who is interested in fashion? Is this something you ever imagined growing up?
It’s fun, man. There is so much going on, there are so many people, and there is so much art going on with the clothing designers. They usually do it in cities where there are great art galleries and such. The creative side excites me when I go into things like this. There is so much to learn from and take in.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Louis Vuitton x Nike Air Force 1
Image via @shai on Instagram

The International Basketball Federation just placed Spain ahead of the United States in its FIBA ​​ranking. What do you think about it from a neutral perspective?
I haven’t really followed it, but I know they do a ranking system based on records and I’m sure that’s probably why. But obviously they are both really good basketball countries. If I had to say which one was better, I’d say the United States, but Canada is also on the way.

So this leads me directly to my next question. Canada’s talent pool in the league is perhaps better now than it was. Can you talk about some of the Canadian fighters and how competitive you think Canada can be?
I think we’re doing pretty well. We have a lot of talent. It’s just a matter of putting it together and I’ll try to impress at the next World Cup.

What helped you become one of the best guards in the NBA and a legitimate MVP candidate?
I think it’s not just this year. I think every year I am able to learn and grow. It’s just an accumulation of all the years that have passed and hopefully it will continue. That’s my goal every year to get better and learn from last year and get better and that’s all I’m really focused on.

Where would you rank among the other top guards in the league?
I don’t get too caught up in rankings, but I will say that every time I step on the court, I tell myself that I feel like the best player on the court no matter who is there. This is how I go about it every night. That’s my mentality.

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