As welcomes for D.C. athletes go, it went pretty well. Wizards point guard and Rookie of the Year runner-up (damn you, Blake Griffin) came by the Foot Locker on 34th Street in NYC to intro his first true signature shoe, the Reebok ZigEncore. He doled out some advice to high school students, gave out some signed shoes, and even entered an impromptu Dougie-off against a young challenger. When all that was over, he sat down with Complex to talk shop.
I guess the best place to start is at the beginning — where did the process for the ZigEncore start?
Basically throughout the season we was kind of already designing how I wanted it lower, wanted to keep the Zig in it — because that’s what we’re pushin’, that’s what’s the great technology now — but with a regular bottom. Put my logo on it. Something that was light, light and fit me so I could run fast and jump high. And this was the perfect shoe to come out with.
It looks like they went lower with the Zig Nano…
That’s what I’m sayin’ — because when it was higher, it was harder for me to run and turn. So they made it lower and made it a regular bottom so it’s easier for me to turn and play and run.
You talk about Allen Iverson being a big influence on you — I look at the clear bottom of the ZigEncore and see the Question.
That’s what it is, the Question. My favorite shoe for Iverson is the Question, so I took a detail, something like he what he had with his shoes, and tried to put it into mines a little bit.
You’ve had quite the busy summer.
Yeah, I’ve been playing in all kind of celebrity games, charity events, just enjoying myself — but it’s great for me to interact with fans and give back to the communities that might not have the opportunity to see an NBA game in person. So to pay $15-25 to watch a lot of NBA guys on one court, that means a lot to them.
You had a lot of highlights on the internet. It ain’t SportsCenter right now…
...but it’ll be up there soon. It’ll be up there pretty soon.
And you’re taking classes right now, too?
Yes, I’m taking two online classes right now at Kentucky. I’m majoring in business management, so I’m taking two classes to start me off with my business major. It’s going good, right now. That’s the main thing right now, to get my degree — it’s what I promised my dad before he died.
My favorite shoe for Iverson is the Question, so I took a detail, something like he what he had with his shoes, and tried to put it into mines a little bit.
Have you gotten back to Kentucky?
Yes, and I’m going back there on Monday. I was there for Midnight Madness, it was unbelievable. They have a talented team coming up this year. I didn’t run with them, because they was getting ready for midnight madness, but I’ll probably play pickup with them a couple times this fall.
What were some of your other favorite shoes growing up?
Well, everybody liked Jordans — Jordans was my favorite shoe, that’s the main shoe I wore a lot was Jordans.
Any specific ones?
The 11s, the 9s, 13s, those were my favorite ones.
And then you wore LeBrons in college, right?
Yeah yeah, I liked LeBrons growing up too, but as a little kid everybody had Jordans growing up, then I wore LeBrons a lot in high school and a lot in college.
Was there a specific moment of your rookie season that was like a “welcome to the NBA” kind of thing?
I think my first [home] game when I Dougie’d and I had 29, 13 and nine. To do a dance like that you gotta come out and perform good, and I had a big game that night.
Did you expect the transition would be…
I didn’t think it was gonna be… It wasn’t easy at all — there still was a lot to learn and a lot to do. I think I played good and left a statement and let guys know that I really could play on this level.
Is there anyone you’re really looking forward to going up against this year when the season finally starts?
Oh, all the guys, all the point guards, man. It’s great to go against top point guards every night, you don’t have a night off. You’re going against Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul — going against all those type of guys every night, so it’s gonna be some fun.
Are you still preparing like the season is going to—
Yes, I’m working out like the season is gonna start on time and playing these games to to try and stay in shape as much as possible.
You said you’re getting up a lot of jumpers?
You trying to hit a certain amount every day or…
Yes, I have to hit 2,000 a day.
Where are you working out?
I work out back home, and then I got a place in DC where I work out, and then I was in L.A. most of the summer working out.
Did you do the same sort of thing last summer, or was this way different?
This summer was way different. Last summer I just tried to prepare myself for the upcoming season because it was my rookie year — this summer I worked on everything that I did bad last year and what I needed to work on.
You working with a shooting coach?
Nah, just shooting not fading away, jumping on my jump shot, stop shooting set shots and things like that.
Because you can’t work with anyone from the team, right?
Nope. Can’t see ‘em.
You work with any of your teammates?
Yeah, some of my teammates — like Jordan Crawford, Nick Young, I seen some of those guys. JaVale, Dray.
What’s been your favorite game this summer?
Probably L.A. vs. the Goodman League. We had two battles, we 1 and 1 with them, so we gotta get a rematch.
And do you have a favorite version of the shoe coming?
Color? I got these Fresh Prince of Bel Air colors that I like, they’ll be out soon.
You watch Fresh Prince growing up?