Empire State of Mind


video and words by Tzvi Twersky | @ttwersky

A month ago, we spent a day with Kemba Walker. By now, hopefully, you’ve seen the KICKS cover and in-book story that came of it. What you haven’t seen until today, though, is behind-the-scenes footage of our time spent traversing New York, NY, with the Bronx-bred, Under Armour-signed 2011 draft pick.

The video—in conjunction with E-I-C Ben Osborne’s dope cover story—should give you a solid feel for what a day with Walker, one of two basketball players Under Armour aligned with this summer, is like.

Below is a brief synopsis of what hanging with Walker consisted of:

• We started off the day at McCombs Dam Park, a large, outdoor area in the Bronx, directly across the street from Yankee Stadium. Between photoshoot takes—courtesy of the great Atiba Jefferson—local kids came running up to the basketball court to show Walker, their hometown hero, much love. At one point, as you can hear and see in the vid, a middle-aged man leaned against a nearby fence and began yelling at Walker, telling him how good he was and how much he appreciated him.

• From there we walked down the block to the elevated 161 Street-Yankee Stadium subway station. An iconic symbol of NYC, we thought it’d be cool to shoot Walker by the tracks. Though he said he hadn’t ridden the subway since high school (!), he was more than happy to once again handle a MetroCard and hit the platform. So after eating a quick lunch, we ascended the stairway. Once on the ‘form we got swallowed up by a large crowd, which just meant a large amount of Kemba love.

• The next stop was the soon-to-be-defunct Rice High School. Located in Harlem, Rice was where Walker played his prep school ball. Despite the sweltering heat and lack of air-conditioning, we hung out in the gym for a while, chilling (or maybe we should call it heating), getting to know each other, etc. It was crazy, Walker said, that this would be his last time in his old school. He made the most of it.

• After exiting the building, we talked shop on the stoop (basketball and shoes—some of which you can hear in this video). As we sat there, a bunch of Harlemites across the street stopped to show their man respect. After acknowledging his loyal admirers—we bumped into so many of them, Walker was taken aback—we wrapped up our time together.

The synopsis doesn’t do the day justice. But between that, the story and this video, you should get a pretty good picture of what went into Kemba Walker’s KICKS cover.