Allen Iverson: I was always the type of player that felt like, “You play like you look, and you look like you play.” I always cared about how I looked out on the basketball court. And I cared about matching. I used to give them a hard time when I went to Denver, if the blue didn’t match the blue, or the yellow didn’t match the yellow in the shoe. I’d have a problem all the time. Now, it’s a new wave. Basically, a guy can have a green uniform, and then have red shoes on. That’s the style now, but back then, for me, it was about matching everything up. Then, when they gave me the [All-Star] shoe, and it didn’t match the uniform, I had a problem with it. [laughs]
His size-15 feet have trod a well-worn path in fashion. But now that the kid from Illinois has an National Basketball Association championship to his name (he was the Golden State Warriors’ MVP in last year’s finals) and can afford to buy all of the clothes he wants, what he wants is not exactly the latest Givenchy or Lanvin — although those are quite nice. The look he says he’s after is more elusive: “confidence.” When someone looks at him, he wants them to immediately think: “This person is about something.” This person is focused. Purposeful. “Perception sometimes is reality,” he says. “Not that I care what other people think, but you have to be careful how you’re perceived.” Especially now, he says, when the fatal shootings of so many black men are in the news.
The industry has been welcoming, Igoudala says. It would be hard for fashion, particularly menswear, not to be. That would deny the influence and clout of athletes — especially black athletes — who have been in the forefront of experimenting with style. “I think men’s fashion, even the big houses, they understand” our influence, Igoudala says. “We know our culture influences the masses. . . . They steal our ideas. I don’t want to seem like a Black Panther, but from Day 1 that’s happened.”
“You stress over outfits for days,” the Warriors’ Stephen Curry said in an interview, “and you wind up wearing it for 30 seconds when you walk from the parking lot to the locker room.” But those 30 seconds are important. Important to broadcast partners like ESPN and Turner Sports, who have filmed these entrances throughout the postseason to help fill pregame airtime. Important to viewers at home, who want to see their favorite players behind the scenes. Important to fashion designers, who benefit from mainstream exposure. And important to the players, who have come to delight in the strange pageantry of it all.
Curry has become an active participant in the whole process. He goes so far as to watch clips of other players making their arena entrances. “All the time,” Curry, whose competitive drive extends beyond the court, said. “You want to see what the other guys are doing.”
Starting today, shoppers will be able to purchase items from NBA player John Wall’s closet. The Washington Wizards point guard has collaborated with The Real Real on an online flash sale, which runs through June 14. Wall is selling two pairs of Kanye West for Louis Vuitton limited-edition sneakers, pieces from Adidas Y-3, limited-edition Nike hoodies, pieces from Christian Louboutin, Givenchy and more.