by Chris O’Leary/@olearychris
The night before the NBA season got underway last week, PEAK held an office tip off party in its Clover City offices. The event was pretty understated, with the PEAK staff welcoming a few media outlets and two of its main men in Houston Rockets Shane Battier and Patrick Patterson.
In between dinner and cake (yes, sir!), I got the chance to talk with both players. First up was Shane Battier, who was checking out PEAK’s U.S. offices for the first time.
SLAM: You’ve been with PEAK five years now. How has that relationship developed?
Battier: It’s been great. It’s the dream of every kid who’s ever played basketball to have their own shoe. About five years ago I got the opportunity to have my own shoe. The fact that it’s Chinese has been a little bit different, but it’s been a great ride.
SLAM: How was the shoe received? Has the perception of PEAK changed a lot in the time you’ve been wearing it?
Battier: At first, (laughs) people didn’t know what to make of it. Now they see that 15, 16 guys are wearing PEAK shoes, which gives it credibility. There’s a lot more interest than there was five years ago.
SLAM: What do you like about your shoes?
Battier: I get to design them. I get input in the design, the color scheme. Most people who have signature shoes don’t have that kind of input. I feel I have ownership over this.
SLAM: What do you look for in a shoe?
Battier: It’s got to be a good balance between stability and a lightweight feel. It has to be functional. I pound pretty hard through 82 games in a year. It has to be tough enough to take the pounding but at the same time I don’t want to feel like I’m wearing leg shackles. PEAK’s done a great job over the last five years improving the shoe every year.
SLAM: I know you’ve talked about it in the past but I have to ask you about the pickup game you played with Barrack Obama this summer.
Battier: (Laughs) It was the usual suspects. LeBron and Dwyane Wade and Kobe was there, but he didn’t play.
SLAM: What did Kobe do then? Just trash talk the whole time?
Battier: You play. That’s the great thing about basketball: It doesn’t matter who you are, even if you’re the President of the United States, it’s basketball and you go out there and you try to win. The games got competitive once point game was on…
SLAM: Is it weird? The only thing I can think of … and I don’t want to say that Obama plays like a girl, but I think it’d be like playing against a girl, where you don’t want to make contact, you think before you try and block a shot…
Battier: No. There were a bunch of his friends as well, so every team had a couple of average Joes, if you will. I was lucky enough to get to play on the President’s team and it was a pretty big thrill for me. The guys who were the President’s friends, they went at each other pretty good. It was fun to watch.
Battier checked out after the dinner/cake, thanking the brand for approaching him five years back and wishing them much success down the road. That left Patterson, who on the eve of what he was hoping would be his NBA debut spent the rest of the night mingling with the PEAK staff, his agent and some of his family, who were also at the event. The rookie also worked on a commercial for the brand, going through multiple takes of a monologue.
SLAM: How’d your deal with PEAK come about?
Patterson: Pretty much I talked to Nike, talked to adidas, and PEAK, because of the Houston Rockets organization. When Yao came here he brought all this Chinese media and attention here. (PEAK) seemed to care more about me. They wanted to take care of me first as a person and my family and also … in a sense of representing their organization.
I felt more comfortable with them. I just felt like that family feel. They’re easy to talk to, you can call any time you want. I can put my advice and thoughts into some apparel and they’ll listen. That’s definitely something that attracted me to them.
SLAM: Are you enjoying getting free stuff?
Patterson: (I get) free stuff from PEAK. Shoes, apparel … I just call them for whatever I want. The best thing about the NBA over college is the free stuff. Your teammate is sponsored by Jordan. ‘Yo, can I get some shoes?’ Your teammate is sponsored by Nike or adidas. ‘Yo, can I get some shoes, can I get some apparel?’ The free stuff is all over the place. There are so many people out there who are well connected and you can ask them for a favor.
My teammate Jarred Jeffries is with Jordan and I’m like, ‘Yo, can I get those Jordans?’ Because in high school that’s what you always wear, Jordans. I get the shoes that I never got. Same with Nike and adidas. Now that I’m with PEAK, I’m making calls left and right to see if I can get this shoe to wear, see if I can get these clothes. It helps them as well because if I’m wearing stuff, people are like, ‘Man, what you got on? I want that too.’
Being from Kentucky, the big blue nation’s everywhere. They see something on Kentucky players and they’ll be quick to buy it just because they love us that much and they support us.
SLAM: When you signed with PEAK, they had you quoted in the release as saying that you wanted to develop your global brand. It’s not too often you hear a rookie outside of LeBron say something like that.
Patterson: The thing that I love about PEAK is that they’re everywhere in every single country. They have thousands of stores in just China. Wherever a PEAK store is, if I have the chance to get my own shoe, my own stuff, my stuff’s going to be in the store.
I get to make commercials and they’ll be all over the place and hopefully I can get to the point where Shane (Battier) is right now and all that where my brand, my logo, my face is everywhere and people recognize me, not just in America but in China.
(That’s) what I’m trying to do for PEAK and also what PEAK’s trying to do for me. I want to get my name out there and get my brand and show everyone what type of guy I am, you know? And hopefully they like me and see more of me and be interested in what I’m doing.
While I was in the PEAK offices, I took as many pics as I could of the shoes that I saw in there. A few of my favourites are below and I’ll be posting the rest on Twitter today if you want to check them out. The black/red shoe is Shane Battier’s Halloween sneaker. They played up the vampire element on the shoe to tie in with his last name (“Get it? Bat-tier?” PEAK’s PR head Allison Douglas said to me). I also liked the all-blue kicks for Jason Kidd.
The other shoe that I thought was a lot of fun was the all green custom job that PEAK did for Jason Richardson when he needed a shoe to wear in his Michigan State alumni game.
Enjoy the pics.