Despite all the hand-wringing, furrowed brows and generational anxiety of your old-ass aunts, uncles and racist former Olympians, Nick Kyrgios is actually a throwback. The outspoken tennis star, with the hectic serve and flashy baseline game, is reminiscent of the sport’s glory days of the '80s and '90s. The days when tennis transcended sport and began to cross over into pop culture.
Kyrgios combines the outsized talent and convention-challenging personality of John McEnroe with the personal style of Andre Agassi. Where Agassi flexed the illest mullet in the game, Kyrgios now has the cleanest lineup on the circuit.
It wasn’t just the stars that had tennis truly poppin in that era though, as McEnroe’s Air Trainer 1 and, later, Agassi’s Air Tech Challenge brought tennis to the forefront of footwear.
In 2019, Kyrgios is bringing fire sneakers back to tennis. The Court Vapor X ‘Kyrie 5’ meshes the tennis-specific tech of the Court Vapor with the look and feel of the Kyrie 5, to combine Nick’s two loves; tennis and basketball.
We spoke to Nick and Nike Tennis product director Alex Restivo about Kyrie, pre-game fits and how to combine the best of basketball and tennis in one sneaker.
You're a basketball fan, but more specifically a Celtics fan. This must be a really exciting experience for you.
Nick Kyrgios: It’s a dream come true. I was excited when Kyrie came to the Celtics, let alone to be able to have this collaboration with him, and be able to walk out and compete in these shoes, is arguably the biggest moment in my career and I'm super excited for it. I've heard that Kyrie is pretty excited as well, he wore them the other night against Brooklyn. I watched every minute of it.
When I was seeing the prototypes and I was wearing them, putting them on, it was a special moment, and when they finally got here I was mind-blown. I'm obsessed with the shoe, and I just wanna make sure I'm playing well in it. I want to play some of my best tennis in it.
Alex Restivo: I think we started this concept about a year and a half ago. Everytime we met with Nick he was talking shop about basketball, talking about the Celtics, and when the Vapor X initially came out, we created a Celtics colourway of the true Vapor X for tennis, as a birthday gift, and he was really excited about it.
Our product manager Jay had an idea to collaborate with the Nike basketball team because of Nick's Australian roots and Kyrie's Australian roots, and the product similarities between basketball footwear and tennis footwear. He approached the basketball team and they were really excited about the concept just because it wasn't just about one athlete or the other, it was this really unique and really natural connection between both athletes, their footwear, their interest and their roots.
So where does this love for the Celtics come from?
NK: In 2004, I got my first PlayStation game and I picked the Celtics. That's when they had Paul Pierce – Garnett and Ray Allen hadn't come yet – and they were really, really bad. I guess The Truth was the reason I became a Celtics fan. I loved Paul Pierce, and then KG came, and Ray Allen, and that was it.
You mentioned that Kyrie wore the sneaker, but when we think about it, that's like an NBA2K moment. You create your own player and put whatever sneaker you like on him.
NK: Yea it's insane, you know, my friends are messaging me saying 'bro one of our favourite players of all time is wearing your sneaker!’ He's one of the most exciting players, so to see him in that shoe, playing well, it makes me feel pretty good, and when I'm wearing the shoe as well, it makes me want to play harder and win more matches. It gives you that vibe like you're representing him as well, and not only yourself.