It’s around 10 a.m. on a Wednesday morning in July. A suite on the eighth floor of the 1 Hotel in Brooklyn has been transformed into a lounge of sorts by Adidas. A closet is filled with a slew of the brand’s biggest upcoming sneakers from collaborators like Kanye West, Bad Bunny, and Eric Emanuel. A room on the other side of the massive suite has been turned into a makeshift barbershop. Here sits Jalen Green, in a barber chair. The 19-year-old is getting a quick haircut. A smile fills his face every so often. His demeanor is fairly calm otherwise, a bit surprising given the whirlwind of a week he is having leading up to the 2021 NBA Draft. A red cape covers his outfit, but subtle things like a silver bracelet on his left wrist, tattoos covering both of his hands, and a crispy pair of white and blue Adidas Forum Lows indicate his penchant for being put together at all times.
A few minutes later, we are on the roof. The barber cape is off. Green emerges from around a corner on the 1 Hotel rooftop decked out in an all-yellow outfit. The mesh tank top, matching shorts, shooting jacket, and Streetball II sneakers are all pieces from Eric Emanuel’s upcoming “Summer Essentials” collaboration with Adidas that’s slated to hit stores in late August. With the Brooklyn Bridge as his backdrop, Green begins to pose in various ways, tossing a basketball in the air and shooting a peace sign to the cameras or spinning the ball on his finger. He seems like he’s in his element. He’s comfortable in front of the cameras. He’s part of the Adidas family now and he’s happy about it.
“I think Adidas carries themselves as a different brand. They do their own thing and start their own wave,” Green tells Complex. “I think that kind of matches who I am as a person. I’m always trying to be different and stand out on the floor.”
Green, along with Jalen Suggs, Evan Mobley, and Sharife Cooper make up Adidas’ latest round of signees from the 2021 draft class. Just one day later, Green will be one of the first names called to the stage by NBA commissioner Adam Silver when the NBA Draft takes place at the Barclays Center across town on Thursday night.
“I’ve been thinking about that this whole time since I went to my first workout, just how it’s going to go,” says Green. He acknowledges the first two teams on the board, the Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets, as places he could see himself immediately being able to make an impact as a player. “Things can change on draft night. Things can happen. I’m just excited to be in that moment and share it with my family and friends.”
On the court, Green has been a highly-touted NBA prospect since the age of 14. He averaged 27.9 points per game as a sophomore at San Joaquin Memorial in Fresno, California. He would eventually transfer, finishing his high school career at Prolific Prep in Napa, California. He’s helped Team USA win three gold medals at the junior level and been named the MVP of the 2018 FIBA Under-17 World Cup. He was named a McDonald’s All-American last year. And those are just some of his accolades. In 2020, the five-star recruit made more headlines when decided to forgo playing college basketball in favor of joining the NBA G League Ignite, a new program that gives incoming players another pathway to hone their skills without joining the NCAA.
“I’m already a step ahead of everybody else,” says Green about his experience for the G League Ignite this past year. “We picked up on terminologies, the speed and pace of the game, just things you don’t really learn in college.”
Off the court, with the help of his Instagram account already boasting around 1.3 million followers, Green has been building his resume as one of the league’s most fashionable incoming players. His love for clothing is immediately obvious. It’s made more clear in a greenroom on Wednesday morning on the 10th floor of the One Hotel when he is handed a pair of a yet-to-be-released Jeremy Scott x Adidas sneakers: a winged pair of Forum Lows covered in a money print. They are a nod to Scott’s first project with the brand back in 2003. “Oh! I need these! Oh my god. Are they size 13?,” yells Green in excitement. He immediately slips them on his feet. “Jeremy Scott, hit me up bro. Let’s figure something out. I love these wings on here. The wings are crazy.” Jeremy Scott requested that Green be the first person to wear the upcoming release publicly, a big cosign from the designer who tends to align himself with only the most stylish people.
“Jalen Green has already confirmed himself as the face of a new era of NBA style, and when I heard he was joining the Adidas family, I thought what could be a more befitting gift than a pair of my Money Wings, he’s about to sign his first NBA contract,” Scott tells Complex.
The designer did something similar back in 2012 with ASAP Rocky when he tapped him to appear in a number of his Adidas campaigns and even design a special colorway of his popular Wings 2.0 sneaker. Green’s big reaction is the first time that morning that he breaks from his reserved demeanor. Earlier that morning, he said his passion for clothing all really kickstarted back in high school when his best friend Justin “Juice” Huelskamp peaked his interest in clothes.
Posts as far back as 2019 on his Instagram page show him rocking a bright pink Running Dog logo hoodie from the classic streetwear brand BBC ICECREAM with distressed denim and a pair of Yeezy Boost 700s. In other posts he opts for full Gallery Dept. sweatsuits splattered with colorful paint or patchwork denim from Kapital paired with a brown Carhartt hoodie. He even made sure he got a fit off on his flight to New York earlier this week, an orange sweatsuit from Young Thug’s Spider label. Green says one of his favorite brands is Bape and he likes looking for pieces from past eras to add to his wardrobe. While he acknowledges the past few days his mind has been dedicated to nothing but basketball and the upcoming draft (he appears to have visited popular New York boutique Patron of the New following our interview though), he says when it is time to cop some new clothes, he goes all in.
“I have a crazy shopping habit. That’s why I rarely go shopping because once I get started, I just keep going,” says Green. “I like what I like. If I feel comfortable in it, imma wear it.”
Green has a certain level of commitment to his off the court style. It’s the same type of attitude that has gotten players increased exposure in the pregame tunnel over the past few years with names like PJ Tucker and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at the forefront. Green has even gotten to participate in the tunnel festivities on his own already during his time in the Orlando bubble with the G League Ignite last year. Items he showed off incuded Yeezy slides, Basketcase hoodies, and tiger-striped Moncler swim trunks. He says he’s excited to pull up in new fits throughout his rookie season and continue to show his fans that side of his personality.
“During Covid, fashion weeks and all of these different things were shut down. So, you sort of had the NBA tunnel as like a runway. It’s been said before, but these players truly dictate what good sportswear is. Before the game, these guys get to show off their personality,” says Eric Emanuel. The popular designer helped style Adidas’ rookie photoshoots that have taken place over the past two days in Brooklyn. His brand’s mesh shorts have become a go-to among players. Tucker rocked a pair last week during his already-iconic championship parade speech in Milwaukee. Green has also been seen rocking the signature “EE” logo shorts in the past. “As a smaller brand, it’s amazing to have that organic support. When I see a new player walking through the tunnel in my shorts, it’s exciting.”
Green’s style isn’t just limited to the tunnel and Instagram though. Some of his flare carries over to the court as well. His tendency to rock short shorts, a habit he says dates back to middle school when he and then-teammates like fellow 2021 draft prospect Josh Christopher started to do it, has become something of a signature look for him. “I can’t wear baggy shorts. They don’t feel right.” The shorter look also conveniently allows him to show off a sleeve of tattoos covering his left leg that includes imagery like a large eye covering his knee, his birth year (2002), and a “559” (the area code of his hometown of Fresno) running down his shin that add yet another layer to his signature look.
“Jalen Green has already found his own personal style before even entering the league. I think that’s something that’s going to be so powerful for him and his brand in general,” says Emanuel. “He’s a presence. He walks in a room and lights up a room. He has star power. Not everyone has that, but he 100 percent does.”
Given the attention that Green gives to his personal style, it’s expected that he will have something memorable prepared for his draft night attire. After all, the night always has its standouts. There’s the good, like when Darius Garland wore a custom Fear of God suit in 2019. And there’s the not-so-good, like when LeBron James’ donned a baggy white suit in 2003. While Green won’t give away any specifics about the fit for his big night just yet, he smiles when the question is posed to him.
“Just know imma go crazy,” he says. “That’s all imma say. But I’m gonna come different for sure.”