World-class sprinter Allyson Felix is one of the fastest humans on the planet. She won her fifth and sixth Olympic Gold medals this summer in Rio, to go along with her total of nine Golds at the World Championships since 2005. She’s also a fixture in the sneaker community thanks to her Nike sponsorship and a keen eye for heat. And even though she eventually traded in her hoop dreams for track stardom, the L.A. native grew up playing, watching and falling in love with basketball and can often be spotted courtside at Laker games.
SLAM: Why’d you start playing?
Allyson Felix: I have an older brother. He’s two years older than me. I was pretty much into whatever he was, and he was into basketball. Everyone in our neighborhood was. That’s what sparked my love for it and got me into it. I loved the game and I was athletic, but I wasn’t the greatest.
SLAM: What are your memories?
AF: We had a hoop in our backyard. Everyone would play at our house. I started organized basketball from elementary school through high school. My freshman year, that’s when I switched over to track.
SLAM: Which players did you look up to?
AF: I was into Grant Hill. My first pair of sneakers were Gary Paytons. But of course our idol was Michael Jordan. He was the focus of everything.
SLAM: Favorite sneaker to play in?
AF: Growing up, we couldn’t get the shoes we wanted, but I played in the Team Jordans. I think the Jordan Jumpman Team 1, the black-and-white and the white-and-blue. My favorite Jordan is the XI. The Playoff Jordans. I couldn’t get those. I remember taking a picture of one of my friends who had them and I put it on my wall. That was the dream.
SLAM: Which NBA guys are you close to?
AF: Draymond Green is a friend. Chris Paul. Andre Iguodala.
SLAM: Do you watch a lot of NBA?
AF: I’m a season-ticket Lakers fan. I’m always watching.
SLAM: Who are your favorites to see live?
AF: It’s tough on my Lakers right now [laughs]. I enjoy the Warriors. I enjoy Cleveland. I like good basketball, so whenever anyone is in town and I know it’s going to be good, I’m gonna get there.
SLAM: You’ve been to the last three Olympics. Do you go to those games?
AF: I’ve always been a big supporter of basketball and track is always the second week of the Olympics so I’m usually sitting back, watching their games through the first week. In the last Olympics, my really good friend Candace Parker, I got to see her games. That was cool. I didn’t get to see anything in person this year. There were a few close games this year, but typically the USA just dominates so I just like watching them put on a show.
SLAM: What are you looking forward to this upcoming NBA season?
AF: I’m just hoping to see good games. I’m interested to see how my Lakers are going young, see the new pieces. I know it’s going to be a tough season, but I’m excited to watch them. I’m interested to see what the Knicks are going to do. Are they finally going to get things together? Also with Kevin Durant to the Warriors, I’m excited to see how he will fit.
SLAM: Do you have a prediction?
AF: It seems like the Warriors are going to do it. Who knows? But if I were a betting person, I’d go with them.
Top photo via Getty Images