by Abe Schwadron / @abe_squad
Wednesday night in New York City, a small contingent of VIPs were invited to witness the official launch of Under Armour’s 2011 basketball ad campaign—“Are You From Here?”—and the release of UA frontman Brandon Jennings’ new sneaker, the Bloodline. The company also vowed to take its athletes on a three-city I-95 Northeast corridor tour to scrimmage against local talent, should the lockout continue, with free entry for the general public. In the building was the rest of UA’s NBA team: Kemba Walker, Derrick Williams and Greivis Vasquez. UA’s four core players share a unique combination of intense work ethic and fun-loving personality, and should the L get back up and running, expect to see big things from the company in the coming years.
The players mingled with media and other notables amidst over a dozen fresh colorways of the Bloodline, and SLAM caught up with each to talk Under Armour, kicks, lockout news and more. Check out Q + As with Jennings and Walker below, then hit page 2 for DWill and Vasquez.
SLAM: Tell us about the shoe.
Brandon Jennings: It’s the Bloodline. It represents everywhere I’ve been, and also the newest member of my family, my son.
SLAM: Between your video series and your summer basketball appearances, we’ve gotten to know you pretty well this summer. Was that a conscience decision to get your personality out there?
BJ: I think that’s just me. Everything you see in the videos, that’s real, that’s where I’m at. I’m always in the hood, and I’m always with my family and friends. That’s just who I am as a person.
SLAM: What about the basketball side?
BJ: For me, I just love the game, at the end of the day. Playing in parks, playing in random pick-up games, that’s just something I love to do.
SLAM: How’s your internship been going?
BJ: I haven’t been in the office in like three weeks. I’ve been out promoting myself by doing the Under the Armour videos and just being around my family and friends.
SLAM: Learn anything?
BJ: Actually, I learned that it’s hard to make a shoe. It’s not as easy as everybody thinks. So the fact that the guys took a lot of my ideas and put them into the shoe, I really respect that, because it’s not easy at all.
SLAM: Are you excited to add a couple of young guys to the UA team?
BJ: Of course. I’m real excited to have Kemba, Derrick, Greivis, so they can help me and help Under Armour to build this whole campaign.
SLAM: Do you feel like the older brother of the UA family now?
BJ: Well, I’ve been down with Under Armour for like four years now. I kinda do feel like the old head.
SLAM: So what are you telling these young guys?
BJ: For Derrick and Kemba, I think the main thing is for them, in their rookie year, is just go out there and play. Go out there and have fun, and do your thing and don’t hold back. Especially for Kemba, I told him, just do the same thing you did in college.
SLAM: Where do you want to take Under Armour?
BJ: We want to take Under Armour to the top. If we don’t want to take it to the top, then we shouldn’t be here right now. We want to be a big name in the basketball world. Basketball is year-round now.
SLAM: Hate to ask, but what have you been doing during the lockout, and do you have any plans outside of NBA basketball in case this thing keeps going?
BJ: Right now, I’m playing flag football a lot. Me, DeMar Derozan, Derrick Williams—who just challenged me—Nick Young, Dorell Wright, we’ve all been playing flag football on Saturdays, and my team’s been beating everybody. It’s just getting too easy. I want them to know that, that can’t no NBA player beat my flag football team.
SLAM: Any chance we ever see an NBA flag football league, organized by you?
BJ: Hey, I have Under Armour to back me up, so that would be great.
SLAM: Last time we caught up with you was for your KICKS cover shoot. What’s new?
Kemba Walker: Just been working out, playing video games, eating, sleeping, the regular (laughs). Nah, but I’ve just been working out, that’s about it. Not much else to do.
SLAM: What kind of feedback did you get from the KICKS issue?
KW: Oh yeah, it was dope. A lot of people liked it. I got a lot of real positive feedback.
SLAM: You said Under Armour was a great fit for you, so now that you’ve been with the company for a few months, do you feel like you’ve confirmed that decision?
KW: Definitely, definitely. Just being with these guys from this summer, it’s just been the best possible fit for me. They work hard, I work hard, it’s just a perfect match.
SLAM: Do you feel like your UA teammates share that attitude?
KW: We’ve got a great group of guys. Derrick, Greivis, Brandon, they’re all great guys, I love to be around them and they work extremely hard. So it’s a great fit for all of us. We’re all, like, perfect for each other.
SLAM: Any advice from Brandon?
KW: Not much. He’s only 22, he doesn’t want to feel like the old head, telling me things. We don’t really talk about ball, we just talk about partying, you know, young guy stuff.
SLAM: Talk about what you’ll be wearing this year.
KW: The shoe I’m wearing this year is the Juke. I didn’t really have any input on that, that was the shoe they assigned me for this year, until I get my own shoe. But they have been making some custom ones for me, like my Rice High School Gauchos edition, and there’s another one which is like, the Bronx. It’s a great shoe.
SLAM: Pure basketball shoe?
KW: It’s perfect for me. It’s like a mix of a high and a low, it’s got strength for your ankle, and then the heel is very comfortable with a lot of padding inside. Just a great shoe.
SLAM: Charles Oakley said he likes your “swagger,” and you’ve got some other former All-Stars and greats there in Charlotte. Do you feel like you’re in a good spot?
KW: Oh yeah, definitely. I feel like it’s a perfect spot. I was so happy to get drafted there.
SLAM: Feel any pressure?
KW: Not really. I’m just going to go and be myself. I try to work hard and get better.
SLAM: You’re a rookie, so you’ve got to be anxious to get out on the court finally, right?
KW: I don’t think words can describe it, to tell you the truth. I’m ready, I’m ready. I’m starting to get bored, man. I just want to play basketball.
Hit page two for Q+As with Derrick Williams and Greivis Vasquez.