Holiday Season


Originally published in KICKS 16

by Nima Zarrabi / @NZbeFree

Footwear is the essential ingredient in the life of a basketball player. On the court, it’s all about performance and a dash of style. Off the court, the same rule applies, with a larger focus on style, especially when it comes to major events.

Look good at all times, feel good. It’s as simple as that for a player on the court—and at his wedding.

Before tying the knot this past July, Jrue Holiday’s fiancée, soccer star Lauren Cheney, had left him in charge of two wedding day items: the DJ for the dancing, and the footwear for Jrue and all of his groomsmen.

When it came to selecting a DJ, Holiday wanted someone on the 1s and 2s who could glide his guests to the dance floor with a variety of music, and after some thorough research the sounds were set. When it came to shoes, no research was required.

“I’ve been in Shell toes since ’98,” the 23-year-old Holiday says with a smile. “I had to go with the white Shell toes with the Ray-Bans. I know my wife, and if they were too flashy, I don’t think she would have liked them. They’re classic, a pair of my favorite shoes. I did my job well, my wife was very happy with my choices and that’s all that matters.”

It’s hardly a surprise that Holiday would be dipped in adidas on his wedding day; after all, he has been all in for quite some time. While on the AAU circuit in high school, he played for an adidas-sponsored team, SoCal’s Pump N Run. He went on to attend UCLA for two semesters, and while there he obsessed over the brand’s Pro Model basketball shoes. (“The best shoe ever; they were so dope,” he proclaims.)

Holiday stayed with the adidas basketball family after entering the NBA in 2009, and this past season as he transcended into an All-Star and emerged as one of the top point guards in the League, the brand made him a key face of its marketing strategy by featuring him in a lauded Crazyquick commercial that included John Wall, Damian Lillard and A$AP Rocky.

“That was my first commercial,” Holiday says. “Having A$AP on there, saying ‘That boy Jrue’—that’s my Twitter handle now. It’s pretty sweet. They tried to explain the concept to me as we were doing the shoot but the way it came out was over the top. It wasn’t what I had pictured. It came out really cool. I didn’t see it until the day before it was released. When they had told me A$AP was on it, I was really excited. I had just come back from watching him in concert, so it was real thrilling.”

Holiday continues, “Knowing John and Damian, I didn’t think anyone else should have been in it. John’s a No. 1 pick and Damian killed it last year. He was probably one of the most fun guys for me to play against. What could he not do? He could score, he could pass, he could defend. I didn’t know about him like that. You know how everybody can hype someone up? For me, I need to play against you to see what it really is. Once I played against him the first time in Portland, I was like, yeah. You can tell he’s working, he’s working hard.”

And so is Holiday. He’s hardly satisfied with just his first All-Star appearance and a couple of short playoff runs. “I don’t want it to be a one-time thing,” says Holiday, who posted averages of 17.7 ppg, 8 apg and 4.2 rpg last season with the Philadelphia 76ers. “Making the Playoffs, my second and third year was probably the best experiences I’ve ever had. Being able to experience those over and over and having to make the most of it, that’s my goal. I look at the best point guards and what they do to separate themselves. Russ [Westbrook] has that athletic ability and that dog in him that a lot of people don’t have. Chris Paul has it, too, mentally the way he thinks about the game is incredible, the same with Chauncey Billups. Every time I used to play Chauncey he used to kick my butt because he outthought me. He would mix it up. He’d shoot from outside, he’d post me up—then he’d get to the paint and get me in foul trouble. He would just frustrate me. So you take a little bit out of everything.”

After a Draft-day trade that sent him from Philly to New Orleans, in exchange for rookie Nerlens Noel and a future pick, a somewhat surprised but ever-ready Holiday is now looking to take his game to the next level as a member of the Pelicans.

“I’m actually really excited,” Holiday says. “We have a good core group of guys that are young and talented. We have a great chance to grow together; I think that’s the biggest part of this. We’re going to be alright. I obviously have to play my game—that means whatever to help the team. I know last year, I had to score for our team to have the best chance of winning. This year with Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans on my wings, I might not need to score as much [laughs]. That means I need to be more of a point guard.”

Holiday is very familiar with several of his new teammates. He played against Evans and Gordon on the AAU circuit and was in Team USA camp with Anthony Davis last year. Big man Jason Smith was a teammate during his first year in Philly. And though he has yet to work with him, Holiday is already fond of coach Monty Williams.

“First off, I know he’s a believer, and so am I,” the 6-3 guard says. “I’m not saying he’s going to be a better coach because he’s a believer, but I like that. I’ve heard he’s a really good coach, especially for point guards. He coached Chris Paul, one of the best to do it. Even seeing what they did last year with the team that they had, I felt like their record didn’t reflect how good they were. They worked hard, they played defense, and obviously Gordon was hurt, but they were always in every game. It’s not like they backed down or just gave up, they were making progress.”

Holiday recently attended the Las Vegas minicamp for the USA national team in late July. The camp also served as his testing ground for the sneaker he will be rocking next season, the adidas Crazy Ghost. Jrue has been working out in the lightweight sneaker this summer and he wore a special Team USA colorway at the camp.

While holding the Crazy Ghost in his hands during the adidas Super Shoot this past summer in Hollywood, CA, Holiday expressed his excitement at what he will be able to do in the shoes.

“The Crazy Ghost is pretty light, and I guess when people look at it initially, they probably wouldn’t think that,” says Holiday, who hit the court last season in a variety of footwear, including Crazy Lights, Top 10 2000, Crazyquick, Ghost 2 and the Crazy Fast. I’ve been working out in the Crazy Ghost. Once you get them on your feet, they’re pretty light and comfortable, which is the biggest part for me. Again, I’m not the most athletic but the Crazy Ghost makes me feel athletic. I guess I can break ankles with these.”

The Crazy Ghost was inspired by the Crazyquick and features a two-way flex zone outsole for dangerous cuts and improved traction. “They put a lot more padding in there, a point guard like myself has to cut a lot more,” he explains. “I need the most support around my ankle and the front of the toe. Me and stopping don’t go together well.”

The sneaker features the brand’s SPRINTWEB and TECHFIT science on the upper for lightweight support and tight lockdown and will be available in four colorways.

“I feel like you should be able to lift and do everything in the shoe that you’re playing in,” says Holiday, of the 11.07 ounce kicks. “These are durable. They’re comfortable, and to me they look great, I have to keep my feet looking right. “

When he’s not hooping, Holiday describes his fashion style as mellow and far from flashy. He enjoys wearing hoodies, collared shirts buttoned to the top and proudly claims that his pants are fitted and not skinny. Off court, he enjoys showcasing some of adidas’ skateboarding shoes, Shelltoes and Top Tens.

“I’m trying to get into the Jeremy Scotts,” he says. ”They’re a little crazy. I have the Flintstones ones with the bones at the top. I haven’t worn them out. I think I have them to just say that I have them.”

Holiday loved the colorways of his sneakers while he was a member of the Sixers—red, white and blue is right on so many levels. But he’s excited to peep what his sneaks and gear will look like in New Orleans.

“I’m excited about it because the color scheme is dope,” Holiday says. “The whole Pelicans thing kind of throws me off, as far as saying I’m playing for the Pelicans. That might take a little while, but I think it’s going to be dope.”