In one of the most interesting NBA off-seasons in recent memory, Victor Oladipo experienced first-hand how fast life can unexpectedly change. The fourth-year combo guard was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder as part of a deal that sent Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic. While most of the headlines predictably focused on Ibaka, some reports resorted to treating Oladipo as if he was just a throw-in.
But Oladipo was used to being overlooked. It served as the fuel that helped him work relentlessly to go from a virtual unknown recruit coming out of high school to an All-American at Indiana University. Oladipo's perseverance is also a reason why Jordan Brand became enamoured with the Thunder guard and his journey to the NBA. His attitude and personality have blended perfectly with the Jordan Brand’s method for success, and to reward him for his hard work and loyalty, the brand has unveiled that Oladipo will be the face of their new performance sneaker, the Jordan Extra.Fly.
The Extra.Fly was purposely built with Oladipo in mind, as a sneaker crafted for a guard with exceptional athletic ability. The sneaker comes equipped with Nike Zoom Air cushioning, dynamic flywire and with a synthetic heel construction that provides heel and ankle lowdown. The Jordan Extra.Fly will release on Oct. 1 in three colorways, including black and white, deep royal blue and infrared and bright mango.
We chatted with Oladipo about being named the face of the Extra.Fly, his reaction to the recent trade and playing with Russell Westbrook.
Jarrel Harris: Congrats on being the face of the Extra.Fly. What was your reaction when you found that you will be the main guy in a Jordan silhouette?
Victor Oladipo: When they came to me with the opportunity, I was very thankful. Definitely humbled. I’m really excited, man. I love the shoe. I have been wearing it pretty much all summer, so I am looking forward to showcasing it during the season.
JH: Did you have the chance to be a part of the design process?
VO: When they first started the shoe, they asked me for my input and asked me what I wanted in a lowtop shoe. Things like that, so it’s just crazy to see the finished product and to be able to wear it everyday. It definitely feels good to be the face of a sneaker.
JH: What design/tech aspects stick out to you the most?
VO: The lightness of the shoe, but at the same time it has great support around the ankle area. Some guys worry about that with a lowtop shoe, but this shoe has great support around the ankle, so I feel mobile and even faster in a lighter shoe. I think those are the complete components.
JH: You are present at every Jordan Brand event it seems—can you talk about being a part of the brand? What makes it special to be a Jordan Brand athlete?
VO: The most special thing about being a Jordan Brand athlete is the family aspect. It is such a crazy unit. Everybody is so close. Everybody knows everybody pretty much. They treat you like you're their brother or a son or a family member. It is about being a part of something that is bigger than yourself.
JH: With sneakers like the Extra.Fy, the XXX1’s, what do you think the Jordan Brand is doing differently compared to other brands?
VO: I think we are doing a great job especially with converting the retros into shoes that can be played on the court. Also, we are coming out with something fresh and new pretty much every year. I think other brands, they kind of come out with other shoes that we maybe seen before but the Jordan Brand brings something new every year.
JH: So you had a very eventful summer. What was your initial reaction when you heard the news that you were traded to OKC?
VO: I was actually on a plane. Luckily, I had Wi-Fi when I found out. At first, I was kind of shocked but after it settled in I thought about how it was a great opportunity for me. I am looking forward to the season starting. My backcourt mate (Russell Westbrook) is also a Jordan Brand athlete, which I think we are going to do something special as well.
JH : As you said, you are currently teammates with another Jordan Brand athlete. How much time have you spent with Westbrook this off-season?
VO: A lot. I was in L.A. for about five weeks with him. We worked out together in that span. I actually knew him beforehand because of the Jordan Brand. You kind of cross paths with everybody when it comes to being a part of the brand.
JH: You and Russ are two of the most athletically gifted guards in the league. How well do you think you two will co-exist?
VO: I think we will complement each other very well. We are similar but there are some things we do differently as well. I think defensively we can do something really special. Offensively, we just have to continue being aggressive. It is not going to come over night because we are obviously still learning each other's game. We just have to continue building that chemistry until we click.
JH: OKC is very different from Orlando. What are your initial thoughts about the city and how has the adjustment been?
VO: Actually, I went to Indiana University so I see a lot of similarities from there. It is a pretty slow town, ain’t too much going on so it is good to be able to just focus on basketball. Not too many distractions for us. I love it here so far because it reminds me of Indiana. I had a great three years of my life there so hopefully I can make this a long one.
JH: You attended New York Fashion week—is fashion something you are looking to dive into more?
VO: Definitely. The cool thing about fashion is that you get to express yourself. You can showcase who you are and express your personality with what you wear. I think that is amazing, and I will love to continue diving in and learn more about it.
JH: I recently saw a video of you performing “I Believe I Can Fly.” What are some of your go-to songs when it comes to singing in public?
VO: (Laughs) I got a few, I am not going to lie. “I Believe I Can Fly” is definitely one of them. Pretty much any John Legend song, and probably any Usher song as well.
JH: If you were to put out a full mixtape or an album, who are some people you would love to collaborate with?
VO: I would love to collaborate with Chris Brown, Trey Songz, Jamie Foxx, R. Kelly, Usher, Musiq Soulchild, Anthony Hamilton, the list goes on.
JH: What are your top three favorite Jordan's of all-time and why?
VO: That’s tough. My top three would to be…(Long pause) I like the IV’s, just because, honestly, I like the way they look. My favorites would have to be the XI’s, just because it is always something to look forward to around Christmas time. And my last ones would have to be the II’s, because I can still hoop in them and I like that aspect about them. I think the II’s and the colorways, I feel like I can wear them with just about anything.