Brandon Jennings is one busy 20-year-old.
The Milwaukee Bucks point guard is the face of Under Armour’s recently launched basketball division with his own signature shoe, the Micro G Black Ice. From product unveils in the heart of Manhattan to magazine cover photo shoots in Los Angeles to recording commercials in Milwaukee, a young star could easily lose himself in the marketing mayhem.
But while Jennings is booked up, the Young Buck is always himself, be it starring in viral dance videos, showing off outfits on Twitter or rolling to Roscoe’s in his all-black-everything Camaro — Brandon is Brandon.
So many basketball sneakers on the market preach new-age technology or a brand mantra, but Jennings’ Black Ice is a very personal, stylish sole story.
Recently, I had a chance to talk to the young Buck. Our interview follows below.
Megan Wilson: Why Under Armour?
Brandon Jennings: Under Armour is the perfect fit … we’re renegades. I took a chance going to Rome to play ball and skip out on the college game. Under Armour took a chance on me and they have stuck by me, listened to the ideas and feedback I’ve had, and really worked with me to make sure this first footwear collection is exactly what a player needs. As an athlete, it’s exactly what you want from the brand you partner with.
Wilson: How does it feel to have your shoes finally for sale?
Jennings: It’s great. Under Armour really wanted to make sure the shoe was right before they put it out for sale and it’s important to me, as well, to make sure that these shoes are exactly what a player wants. The Black Ice actually has my initials on the inside of the shoe — it’s like my official sign-off that these are ready for the court.
Wilson: What’s it like to be the face for the entire company’s new basketball division? Do you feel any pressure to make sure the brand succeeds?
Jennings: It’s crazy to think of how different my life has been in the past few years. The only pressure for me is the pressure I put on myself to play my game and play to the level I know I am capable of. I think I had a stand-out rookie season and I’m just looking to keep that momentum going.
Wilson: You seem to like to stand out. Have you always done things your own way?
Jennings: Definitely, you have to have your own swagger — that’s how I play, it’s what inspires my style. It’s pretty much how I live my life.
Wilson: Are they any players who you really modeled your game after growing up?
Jennings: I don’t think there is one player who I have modeled my game after, but a lot of my inspiration to play the game — for the love of it — comes from Kobe. You can tell when you watch him play that he loves this game and day-in and day-out — that is why he plays with such passion. That’s where I get my motivation to play, too. You gotta love it to be successful.
Wilson: Are you really picky about your shoes? Last season, at MSG, you changed from the all black “Mecca” kicks to white shoes at half time and your game completely changed. Can your shoes throw you off completely?
Jennings: I am, it’s gotta be right. I’m a fast player, I make quick cuts and I have to know that my shoes are going to support me. If you’re not comfortable or you don’t feel like you got your swagger on the court then you’re not in the right mind to play at your best.
Wilson: What screams “Brandon” on the Micro G Black Ice that an average fan might not notice?
Jennings: The entire Black Ice shoe is designed and inspired by certain things in my life or relating back to my style. The stitching actually represents my “trinity” — my mom, my brother and myself, which is why it’s a triple layer stitch. The name itself, Black Ice, is actually the name of the air freshener in my Camaro. The strap across the front was designed after one of my watch bands. [...] The shape of the shoe — it’s a mid[top] with an asymmetrical top, is inspired by the “Gumby” fade I was rocking during the season.
Wilson: It’s almost too perfect that the Bucks’ colours match Gucci’s signature shades. How important for you was it that you could wear these kicks off the court?
Jennings: When I met with the UA team, I told them that I really wanted a shoe that I can wear on the court and perform in, but one I could also wear with jeans. It had to be something that reflected my personal style, both on and off the court, and they definitely delivered that.
Wilson: What were your favourite shoes growing up? What do you wear when you’re not in Under Armour?
Jennings: Chuck Taylors were the go-to when I was growing up. I don’t know if I would consider myself a sneakerhead, but I love shoes. The high fashion guys are great, but I still rock the Chucks as well.
Wilson: After helping out with the styling of your shoe, are you interested in fashion design?
Jennings: Maybe. Right now I’m focused on playing, but who knows — it’s something that I think about and down the road would be interested to get into.
Wilson: How would you describe your personal style?
Jennings: My style is unpredictable and I like to take risks. I definitely pull inspiration from old school hip hop, but I’m feelin’ the newer guys like Kanye and Pharrell. That, and I always keep that West Coast vibe incorporated.
Wilson: Finally, do you really eat Roscoes that often? Is there an endorsement deal coming?
Jennings: (laughing) I love Roscoes — I probably eat there a few times a week. Roscoes and Carnivore in Milwaukee are my spots when it comes to food.