by Ben Osborne / @bosborne17
cover and inset portrait by Atiba Jefferson / @atibaphoto
Like I told you guys in the Rajon Rondo post, KICKS Mag is here!
And with the lockout news so depressing, we couldn’t have been more ready for our annual sneaker extravaganza.
This year’s edition, our 14th, has three covers: Kemba, Rajon and Monta Ellis.
How does Kemba, who has yet to play an NBA game, make the cut?
Pretty easily, actually. For one thing, we’re talking about the biggest name in the 2011 Draft. Maybe not the player most likely to be an All-Star, but on the strength of a highlight-filled, magical run to the National Championship, King Kemba has a massive fan base and an accessible personality that will keep those fans engaged for years.
Recognizing Walker’s appeal to such a broad swath of fans—UConn Huskies Nation, New Yorkers, kids, anyone who’s ever been told they’re too small to accomplish something—Under Armour outbid some more established brands and signed Kemba to an endorsement deal that should be hugely beneficial to both parties.
Besides money, Kemba, who will wear the Micro G Juke this year, will get the chance to be featured in ad campaigns, eventually have a signature shoe and have a large say in how said shoe looks and performs.
The cover story, written by yours truly, is built off getting to spend an entire day with Kemba in his home city. We started in the Bronx and ended up at his old high school Rice, chatting, taking photos and watching him get love from passersby the whole time. He’s a cool, humble young man, and I think I got some great stuff out of him…but you’ll have to read it yourself to see for sure.
Elsewhere in the issue, besides the cover stories on Rajon and Monta, we packed the usual broad range of pieces into a very meaty 104-page issue (ok, so we aren’t quite Vogue, but trust me: 104 is a healthy book in 2011.) There’s Eric Gordon talking about his maturation as a player and the adidas Stupidly Light he’ll be rocking. We sent writer Maurice Bobb all the way to Paris to cover Quai 54, an incredible streetball event made extra special thanks to Jordan Brand’s financial and product support. There are also stories on Yao Ming’s shoe legacy, Swizz Beatz’ partnership with Reebok, Blake Griffin as the face of the Nike Zoom Hyperdunk 2011, Converse’s Band of Ballers, APL, ATR, BALL’N and so much more.
If you like basketball and shoes, you’ve simply got to cop this. Look for all three covers on newsstands in New York City starting today, while stores in the rest of the country should have it next week.