Each and every night in the NBA, the pregame tunnel becomes more and more of a fashion show. It began in the late 1990s with players like Allen Iverson pushing the limits of league fashion, and it has continued into the new generation with players like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Russell Westbrook, and P.J. 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 sneakers from multiple brands under the Nike umbrella off the court, only aiding in his ability to be one of the league’s best dressed.

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

This conversation has been condensed for clarity. 

What has it been like having Converse as a partner? How has it been working with them creatively?
It’s fun. It’s really 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.

It seems like Converse really emphasizes creative freedom. Guys like yourself and Kelly Oubre Jr. are some of the more stylish guys in the league. Is that something that really stuck out to you when you decided to be a Converse partner? 
For sure. I wanted someone who’s gonna let me be me and express myself through fashion, shoes, clothes, whatever it is. And they haven’t disappointed me, for sure.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Pregame Tunnel
Image via Getty Images/Zach Beeker

Being a partner with Converse, you’re able wear things like Nike and Jordan off the court. Is that a plus for you as well?
Yeah, absolutely. Obviously, those shoes or staples and go-tos for kids all over the world.

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

Are there any specific AI outfits that come to mind when you’re thinking about his influence?
The whole baggy vibe. Baggy sweats, the do-rag vibe, chains, the jerseys with the sweats.

We mentioned the freedom that Converse gives you, allowing you to express your own style, and you’ve shown that with some of the shoes that you’ve worked on with them. Can you talk about working on your own shoe with the brand?
Yes, a dream come true. Obviously, as a kid you dream of stuff like that. Having to put your imprint on a shoe and kind of have it be your own, it’s surreal-feeling for sure.

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

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

What are the things that you look for most when you’re looking for performance from an on-court shoe?
Grip first and foremost. So I can stop and start. And then just cushion in the shoe, to make sure I’m comfortable and my feet don’t hurt. And then style, three.

What was it like being a part of Fashion Week being such a fashion-conscious person? Is that something you ever could have imagined growing up?
It’s fun, man. There’s so much going on, so many people there, and so much art going on with clothing designers. Usually they do it in cities where there’s great art galleries and stuff like that. The creative side of me gets excited when I go to those types of things. There’s 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 put Spain ahead of the United States in its FIBA rankings. What are your thoughts on that from a neutral perspective? 
I haven’t really been following, but I know they do, like, a ranking system based on records, and I’m sure that’s probably why. But obviously they’re both really good basketball countries. If I had to say which one was better, I would say the United States, but Canada is on its way too.

So that leads me right into my next question. Canada’s talent pool in the league is better than it’s been maybe ever right now. Can you talk about some of the Canadian guys and how competitive you think Canada can be?
I think we’re pretty good. We have a lot of talent. It’s just about putting it together, and I’m gonna try to impress at the next World Championships.

What has helped you make the jump to one of the best guards in the NBA and a legit MVP contender? 
I don’t think it’s just this year. I think every year I’m able to learn and grow. It’s just an accumulation of all the years that have gone by and hopefully it continues. That’s my goal to continue to improve every year and learn from last year and get better, and that’s all I really focus on.

Where would you rank yourself 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 I feel like I’m the best player on the court no matter who’s there. That’s just how I go into every night. That’s my mentality.