by Abe Schwadron@abe_squad

Some folks were surprised when Josh Childress stepped on the scene at Nets media day this year wearing a minty fresh pair of Air Jordan VI Oreos. Those people haven’t been paying attention.

And sure, a two-year hiatus overseas followed by a pair of frustrating seasons in Phoenix were enough to push JChill outside the mind of the casual NBA fan, but when it comes to the shoe game, wise up. On the low, Childress has been one of the League’s most enthusiastic sneakerheads—and has been proving so on the court since his college days.

Off the court, he’s no slouch either. Walking into his closet, he says, is an adventure. When you’ve got an endless selection of choices, even picking a pair of shoes to wear to the grocery store is complicated. So how does he decide?

“It’s a crapshoot, dude,” Childress says with a laugh.

Now a critical member of Brooklyn’s “Bench Mob,” we caught up with Josh last Thursday, as he (literally) was lacing up a fresh pair of Air Jordan III Retro Flips for a nationally televised tilt with the Boston Celtics to get his take on the rising tide of NBA sneaker fashion, his favorite Jordans of all-time and more. And, as you read, check out a sampling of his best sneaker choices, compiled in the gallery above.

SLAM: Were there any sneakers you always wanted growing up?

Josh Childress: One was the Zoom Spiridon, my brother had them and I just loved them. The other one was the Penny IIs. They were just dope. When my brothers went to work, I would go in their closet [put them on] and run around the house. That’s how I started enjoying and appreciating sneakers.

SLAM: It seems like you’re making a real effort to step your game up this season, like when you wore the Jordan VIs on Media Day. How come?

JC: I had like five or six options that I was going to go with. One of them was the Concords, but I’m like, alright, the Concords—how many dudes are going to wear those on Media Day. So I tried to do something a little different. It’s not what 50 other guys would wear.

SLAM: Give me your top three Jordans of all-time.

JC: Any of the IIIs, that’s my top. I really wish they would release the Mocha IIIs, those were really underrated. After that for me it’s probably the Vs and then the XIs, that’s my top 3. The Vs in Fire Red. The XIs, the Concords and the Cool Greys.

SLAM: What do you like to wear off the court?

JC: J’s, or now I wear a lot of Air Max, just for comfort. They’re easy to come by and have a lot of choices. And you don’t feel as bad if you mess them up (laughs).

SLAM: How do you decide what to wear for games?

JC: We’re not supposed to have a ton of other colors in our shoes, like accents, so I try to work around that. Whatever I can do, whatever I find. Tonight, I’m breaking out the Flips.

SLAM: You’ve said you have some good stuff you’re going to wear this season. Care to give us a preview?

JC: I’m going to keep it a secret. But I’m working man, I got some good stuff.

SLAM: Do you think the League is becoming more sneaker-conscious than ever before?

JC: It is. I think it’s also because the League changed the rules about what kind of shoes you can wear. Initially you had to wear majority black or majority white. Now you see guys wearing whatever, with them lightening the rules up.

SLAM: How often do guys notice each others’ sneakers on the court? Do you talk about it?

JC: I notice all the time. I look online at the end of the week, see what guys are wearing. For me, it’s cool. I enjoy that. Some guys aren’t as enthusiastic about it. Guys like Gerald [Wallace] and Joe [Johnson] and Deron—well, Deron has to wear his own Nike model—but those two guys, if I’m sitting in their spot, I would be rocking some crazy stuff. They’re Team Jordan. I’m sure they want them to wear the product that’s out now and not the retros but I would be pushing for some Retros all day, for sure.

SLAM: And you’ve been wearing Jordans since college. Any particular reason why Jordans?

JC: Jordans have a plastic plate in them. I had and still have foot problems, so they’re structurally better for my foot. I don’t know if that’s the reason other guys wear them, but for me, that’s the reason why I like to wear them.

SLAM: But the style doesn’t hurt, huh?

JC: Exactly. (Laughs.)