Wednesday, August 15th, 2012 at 10:00 am  |  29 responses

KICKS 15: On Sale Now!

Kyrie Irving is the next big thing, on and off the court.

words by Tzvi Twersky | photos by Trevor Paulhus

A couple of Wednesdays ago, after an evening of cancelled flights and, ultimately, an eight-hour overnight drive, I arrived at Cleveland Clinic Courts 40 minutes early for the KICKS covershoot. Sleepless, stressed and on the verge of a complete mental meltdown, I was one more mishap away from going off. I was one pushy handler, one late-arriving subject, from letting someone have it.

Then, with 15 minutes still to go until call time, Kyrie Irving walked into the Cavs’ breathtakingly beautiful practice facility with three of his friends and my mood changed.

When I was assigned to write about Irving for the cover, I immediately had an angle in mind: Based on a slew of factors—he’s camera-ready  (singing in the school show at St. Pat’s helped him overcome stage fright), charismatic (that comes from his dad, who’s also a people-person), comfortable in his skin (“that’s just me”) and well-rounded (tried out for football as freshman, skateboarded for four years and played varsity baseball as a high school senior)—Irving, an endorser of Nike, is well on his way to becoming one of the most marketable players in basketball.

Well, within moments of meeting Irving, my hypothesis was confirmed.

From catching a 5:30 a.m. flight that morning and arriving early to our shoot, to making eye-contact when answering tricky questions, to working well with our dope photographer, to making everyone in the building feel like his long-time friend, Irving proved himself to be one of the most mature, likable 20 year olds around.

People paid to cover basketball have known about Irving’s game, if not his personality, since his high school days at St. Patrick in Elizabeth, NJ. People who are pretty steeped in basketball found out about him in his injury-shortened season at Duke and were reminded of his prowess during his Rookie of the Year season in Cleveland. Casual fans, though, really learned about him this past spring, when, in conjunction with Pepsi Max, Irving unveiled his Uncle Drew character.

“When I see people I’m also known as Uncle Drew,” Irving, who co-wrote the skit which has been viewed more than 14,000,000 times on Youtube, says. “Uncle Drew in the airport, Uncle Drew in the Bahamas, Uncle Drew everywhere.”

With that on his marketing resume, Irving is now ready to do the same for Nike, is now ready to become the newest face of Swoosh’s basketball wing. After all, having grown up watching his dad, Drederick, maneuver on Wall Street, Irving is schooled beyond his years in business. He knows the deals he currently has, envisions the future deals he wants, and he knows what he wants to do with the fortune and fame.

“This is something that I want to feed my family doing for long time,” Irving says. “It really makes me happy, seeing my father happy, basically being able to give him anything he wants. He made so many sacrifices for me to get here.”

Irving refers to himself as the “Universal Player” because of the way his game was honed, because he grew up playing in the suburb of West Orange but would make weekly forays to play in the Bronx borough of NY where his dad grew up, because he played at all-white Montclair Kimberly Academy and then transferred to, what he terms, the “polar opposite” St. Pat’s. He credits his diverse street-meets-burbs game—what Sandy Pyonin, his trainer and AAU coach, calls old school, new school—to playing in those varying environs. What goes unsaid, but certainly not unobserved, is how those same experiences molded him into a universal, cross-cultural pitchman.

The perfect pitchman for Nike.

Still, Irving realizes this is just the beginning. Rookie of the Year, star of a viral video, wearer of Nike, on the cover of KICKS—it’s all great. But Irving wants to do even more next year. “I was trying to figure a lot of things out last season, so I didn’t really feel comfortable playing my complete game,” Irving, who’s coming off of a fractured bone near his pinkie that required six screws, says. “I feel like next season I’m gonna bring a new gear, a new level, that I didn’t get a chance to show. A year under my belt, and now the game’s just gonna slow down, my third year it’ll slow down, and my fourth it’ll slow down…I think I can become one of the best in the League.”

Now that, even in my sleep-deprive state, sounds like a scary thought.

Aside from my story on Irving (which includes details about his injury, childhood in NJ, recent bet with Kobe, preferred Nikes and more), KICKS 15 is packed with all of the usual goodness. There are particularly dope stories on Chris Paul, Ricky Rubio, spoken word artist Lemon Andersen and AND1, and pretty much every major sneaker brand is featured. Throw in a couple of kicks-as-the-messenger-to-kids stories, some amazing visuals, and you have yourself a great issue.

And you have yourself KICKS 15.

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  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    :) . Shouts to Kyrie and Jeff Wechsler, the Cavs whole PR staff, Brian Strong at Nike and my man TT for making this happen. So happy to have this cover out today. On stands in NYC now, rest of country by next week!

  • http://www.kb24.com Bigimon

    That’s the Hyperdunk 2012 he’s wearing, is Kyrie gonna have a signature shoe for next season?

  • Jer dawg

    Amazing player. You look at him and he’s not intimidating at all. But on the court he’s crazy good.
    Little surprised it isn’t KD on the cover, though. All that teaser on who is the featured athlete and we get Cleveland.

  • Audie

    Kyries the man!

  • http://slamonline.com gab

    last 3 three years there’s been a point gaurd on the cover. Rondo and and Kemba last year. 2010 it was jennings and 09 it was D-rose. And now Irving.Cool cover tho

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com Dutch Rich

    I’m biased cause he’s from around the way by he’s the quickest guard since Isiah.
    He comes from the school off “the only purpose off the dribble is to blow by you”. Doesn’t waste dribbles plus he can REALLY shoot.
    His resume is already off the charts despite missing most of his only season at Duke.
    Gotta love his passion but as a leader he’s gonna have to control and direct his competitiveness. Fracturing his hand on his own volition, at a scrimmage, was very boneheaded.
    I fully expect him to lead the US team in Rio 2016.
    This guy can become one of the best point guards ever, talent-wise he already is.

  • huh

    @gab monta was on the cover there was 3(kemba and rondo) but he is a pg/sg

  • Dingo Rob

    Melbourne the most liveable city in the world and a good place to hone your crossover – represennnnt

  • bdogg

    def approve this…kyrie gets the cover…kinds surprised they have him rocking the new hyperdunk…very cool! cavs need new uni’s IMO!

  • Juicy

    Chill homie, 2016 is gonna be DRose’s squad. Uncle Drew is nice, but he has a lot to prove before he’s in the class of DRose, DWill, CP3, RussWest, and Rajon

  • robb

    give him his own shoe Nike!!!!

  • JiggaUpThere

    Is this gonna be available to digital subscribers?

  • logues

    looks sweet. love his game, this guy will be the best pg in the league in no longer than 5 yrs.

  • Steve the cannon

    Do subscribers get this?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Jahmai

    I love Kyrie’s game and it’s a dope cover but you guys could switch it up a little, I know it’s not nickelodeon magazine but it’s ok for people to smile on the cover once an a while (I know it does happen, but not as often as it should IMO), there’s no need for straight, angry, hungry, indifferent looks for every cover. These guys are young, rich (in most cases loved) and talented. I would smile. Besides, most of these guys have really fun personalities of the court and it would be nice for the covers to reflect that fact. But I do LOVE Slam Magazine and I think you guys do an excellent job overall.

  • jadaqwest

    where this available at?

  • Lithuanian

    Hey guys, will this KICKS magazine be sent to me if i have ordered SLAM for 2 years?

  • Timothy Gartner

    As a subscriber to your magazine I am not happy that I cannot find this magazine in my area. I called your customer help number and inquired if I could order one and was told it is only available in stores. That is not only unfair but poor business as well.

  • http://vk.com Anastasiya

    “These young bloods these days, with their rappidy hippidy hop, don’t practice the fundamentals”. Uncle Drew

  • http://entelleckt.com/exclusive-mp3 Entelleckt | Mike Wyatt

    Kyrie’s one of the few players from Duke I can root for.

    the others being Grant Hill, Austin Rivers, and Daniel Ewing

  • sumguycalledguy

    is t just me or are those some small shoes?

  • http://www.facebook.com/gametimeweezy Wayne Lee

    Danny Ferry gets no love?

  • http://entelleckt.com/exclusive-mp3 Entelleckt | Mike Wyatt

    he gets no hate, that’s for sure. Guess I’m lukewarm on Danny Ferry and Dahntay Jones

  • http://twitter.com/SLAMonline SLAM Magazine

    Love this tweet from Kyrie today! https://twitter.com/KyrieIrving/status/247080479331872769
    (even if he meant KICKS)

  • http://www.facebook.com/BUGGN413BK Buggn Fouronethreebk

    bad photoshop lol no shadows

  • http://www.facebook.com/BUGGN413BK Buggn Fouronethreebk

    ayo where can i copp a digital copy of kix and why isnt any of the slam presents included in the damn subscription? at the very least yall could give us kix

  • http://www.facebook.com/BUGGN413BK Buggn Fouronethreebk

    also the plainest most generic shoes in kix cover history lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/BUGGN413BK Buggn Fouronethreebk

    what happened to kix anyway? it used to be waaaay thiccer and have waaaaay more kix in em. last one was a lil better i guess, but what happened to sneak peeks and debuts of shit people care about like the new lebrons or jordan 2013s or reebok finally doing shit right and re releasing the og kamikaze 2s in all the colorways and the emmitts too or how converse is finally coming out with suede dr. j’s but needs more colors. yall might as well hire me. i would give the people what they want. maybe ill start my own mag lol hmmmmm

  • nicole

    im having the same problem. whats the customer service number? can they tell you what stores they are available in?