Are you aiming for people who grew up watching him play to get another shot at it or…

I think there’s a little bit of that, but I think more of the lion’s share of what we’re hoping — and why we’re selling it to a Foot Locker and bigger chains — is because I think we think there’s this generation of kids like 16, 17 that are just into the whole ‘90s trend, their older siblings talked about it, they knew who AI was. They probably haven’t seen him play that much, but it’s this generation of kids who are aware of ‘90s sport and and all the athletes that came before the generation of LeBron and guys they’re watching now.

That’s the funny part is he did wear Jordans when he was a kid, is it that the ghilly lacing was a thing then, or was there a more cognizant thought of “oh, Allen is wearing the Jordan XI a lot so…”

No, it wasn’t really — it was more we were trying to bring some familiarity to the shoe in general with different elements, but there was no like, look to something. We didn’t say ‘OK, he likes Jordans, let’s try to make him comfortable.’ Our goal was to make things that were really going to stand out on the court. Things that were — we felt he was all about speed. One thing that we met originally with David Falk they really wanted to create this image of him as speed standing still — he was speed, they were going to try and do a phone company, a water company, and Reebok, and have them all speak about the speed and fluidity of Allen Iverson. So we were just trying to create product that gave that incredible speed look, whether it was the flashy toe or the big graphics. Some shoes did it better than others.

 

Going with Reebok was gonna allow Allen to be the face of the brand.

 

Was the Question design started before Allen was even a thought? Was it a shoe that would have happened no matter what?

Nope. In November of his sophomore year, Reebok was talking of signing another player, and myself and this guy named Scott Hewett who was the original designer and Que [Gaskins] went to Scott’s house, in his living room, and Scott’s just a great designer but not a basketball guy. So we took everything we could find who Allen Iverson was at the time — which wasn’t a lot, because it was ’95. You couldn’t just go print a bunch of shit off Google. It was like how the fuck do you get all this information? How do you take a really talented young designer and bring him into the world of who Allen Iverson is? And so we tried to do our best. We took his living room over and made it into this whole shrine basically, everything we could find of who he was, and then he started sketching. And we talked about things like an iconic element, and we talked about kind of speed lace, we talked about what would the logo be, we explained to him what “the Answer” means, and then there was all these questions about Allen at the time, “will he go pro?” and “if he does is he too small?” so that’s what the Q on the back came from. That was built with Allen in mind, we were gonna go after Allen. There were some boardroom meetings, I’ll never forget, with some of the upper management people, and I was real young at the time, but “why this guy?” “why do we need this guy” “there’s gonna be so many guys coming out, why this guy?” and there were just a couple of us convinced he was gonna be a game changer given his style, his swagger, what he meant culturally and of course his ability to play at that level in an exciting way, so we pushed it, pushed it. But there were a lot of questions along the way whether he was the right guy, and do we need to really go so hard because Nike was gonna want him, and coach Thompson was on the board at Nike, and we were up against a lot — David Falk had him and Michael, so we were like holy shit, this is not gonna be an easy one. But Allen also had conviction, when he sits here and talks he has the confidence and he wanted to set himself apart, he wanted to be different. And I think going with a brand like Reebok was gonna allow him to be the face of the brand.

Did you have a plan B?

You know, somebody asked me that like last week, and I don’t think we did at the time. I don’t really think we did. Not for what we were trying to do in our world. And that’s what we said at the meeting in the boardroom. I remember Paul Fireman, who was definitely interested in Allen, I remember Paul saying in the meeting “why does this have to be the guy?” and we were like “Paul, you have to trust us on this, he’s everything you need in this game,” I’m not saying we’re sitting around the board room as GMs getting ready to make a pick, I’m saying in the world we live in he really relates to kids and he has that swagger…

Would you consider doing an all-new Iverson shoe?

I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s interesting — I think we’d have to really have a story behind it, like what does it represent so it’s perceived as being something real, versus OK, Reebok needs to do this because they’re trying to figure out their relevance. So I think we have to figure it out. I think what we’re really comfortable doing right now is bringing back his shoes in the right way, with Swizz, with John Wall, having John wear them on court, bringing them back in limited runs and kind of seeing where it goes from there. He would love to be involved in the process again I think, because I think that’s something he misses. He doesn’t miss the 10-hour shoots, you know…

Going back to the Question, I think that shoe probably helped develop a relationship…

No question. There’s no question he had concerns when he first did the deal — I mean, who wouldn’t? You grew up a Nike kid, you grew up wearing Jordan, and all of a sudden now all eyes are on you, there’s all this skepticism around your game, and you go do a deal with Reebok. Clearly there was people waiting to see him fail. And I think when this came out and everyone was talking about it and we did those ads about the shoe and people were running everywhere to get the shoe and they were being told it was sold out, then he’s starting to walk with a little more swagger, he’s like “OK, I made the right decision, these guys do know what they’re doing.” Then the Answer 1 was really strong, the DMX shoe. He built — he started to feel proud, you know? And then, he told you, all the other guys asked to wear his shoes in the League, all the guys that we had wanted to wear Iversons, Baron, and then Mateen Cleaves and Mo Pete wear it to win the championship, he’s just starting to think “I made the right call." 

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