Russell Westbrook ended weeks of speculation Thursday when he announced that he had officially partnered with Jordan Brand as its newest endorser.
After four years with Nike, the Thunder’s star guard became a coveted sneaker “free agent” and now joins Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony as the most prominent faces of Jordan Brand in the NBA.
In an exclusive Q&A with The Oklahoman, Westbrook talked about the signing and what’s in store from his new sponsorship.
Q: First off, congratulations on your new shoe deal. How does it feel to be a part of the Jordan Brand?
A: It’s great. It’s an amazing brand as everybody knows. But it’s a new beginning for me and I’m looking forward to it.
Q: How did this endorsement opportunity come together?
A: It was my last year with Nike. I was just trying to explore my options and see what the best situation for me was at the time.
Q: What role did Dwyane Wade leaving the brand play into you having this opportunity and ultimately deciding to sign on?
A: Not much. I didn’t really know what was going on with his situation, if he was going to re-sign or not. But it didn’t really have much to do with my decision.
Q: You’re an extremely loyal guy. What made you feel like it was time for a change?
A: I just felt it was a good opportunity for me and the Jordan Brand. They have a great staff over there that supports their players and I thought it was a good spot for me.
Q: For a while there were whispers that you had joined adidas. Was there anything to those rumors, and how close were you to signing with adidas?
A: Nah, I don’t know where that came from. I guess somebody just kind of made that up. They were an option, but they weren’t nowhere close.
Q: Does Michael Jordan still handpick the players he wants to represent his brand?
A: Yes. I think so. To my knowledge, I think he wants guys that relate to the brand. I don’t think they want too many guys. But they want guys that relate to the brand.
Q: Did he ever reach out to you personally?
A: Nah, not before the process. A little bit (afterward). I didn’t get a chance to holler at him though. But he tried to reach out.
Q: Wait a second. If Michael Jordan calls, you take his call.
A: (Laughs). I didn’t know. I didn’t know what it was, who was calling.
Q: What’s your all-time favorite Jordan’s?
A: The 11s, the Space Jams. (I like) the patent leather. They come in a variety of different colors and they’re comfortable. They’re one of the best ones, I think.
Q: We’ll we see you in many retro Jordan’s?
A: From time to time. Certain days. Certain games.
Q: What can you tell us about the pair you’ve been wearing this preseason?
A: They’re called Super Fly.
Q: Are you going to start the season with those?
A: It’s like three other pair. I’m going to alternate.
Q: Are they all going to be in the custom Thunder colorway?
A: Yep. You know it.
Q: I assume you can now get any pair of Jordan’s you want made into roller skates?
A: Yeah (laughs). You’re right. I got to get some more now.
Q: What kind of products can we expect to see you in?
A: A lot of fun stuff, I can tell you that much. A lot of exciting stuff. It’ll be some new stuff that you probably haven’t seen. But it’s going to be nice.
Q: Jordan Brand historically has produced some strong and effective ad campaigns. Has your role in future campaigns already been discussed, and how much are you looking forward to seeing that come together?
A: A little bit. Not as much because I wasn’t with the brand officially. But now officially I’ll talk about it more and try to get going on different things.
Q: What has been your reaction to fans and media that showed so much interest in which shoe company you would endorse?
A: It was crazy. I didn’t know too many people paid attention to that type of stuff, especially when people sign new shoe deals. But I had a lot of attention on it. I didn’t know a lot of people paid that much attention to it, to tell you the truth. It kind of surprised me.