The NBA has gone through a sneaker revolution over the past couple years. Under the helm of commissioner Adam Silver, sneaker culture has found a safe place in the league that once banned certain shoes. Just look at the NBA twitter feed that happily promotes its #NBAKicks hashtag to showcase the best sneakers every night. Then there are the players that bring the culture to life, such as Houston Rockets forward P.J. Tucker, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Lance Stephenson.
All of the names above are established in sneaker lore, but Montrezl Harrell is a new prospect who has gained esteem for his rare collection. The Los Angeles Clippers forward is pushing hard for the sneakerhead of the year crown that we gave to Tucker last year. Harrell’s rotation ranges from retro Air Jordan’s to rare LeBron’s, and he is one of the leaders behind the sneaker customization boom that is currently overtaking the NBA.
The Crossover had the opportunity to chat with Harrell about his sneaker collection and the process he goes through to choose shoes for games.
Jarrel Harris:You have become one of the best sneakerheads in the NBA in such a short time. What are some of your credentials?
Montrezl Harrell: I just love shoes in general. I have a big collection on the court as well as off the court. I collect them a lot and I started off my freshman year in college. I’ve been going and going since then. As far as being one of the biggest sneakerheads, it’s an honor because it is one of the things that I am passionate about and something I like to do and it’s a great accomplishment.
JH: Where did your love for sneakers originate?
MH: Just from actually loving shoes and being able to collect them. It’s what separates collectors from people who just buy shoes. It all about what you have in your collection. If you have things that everybody is getting, that’s not really a collection to me. In my collection, I have certain things people can’t get their hands on and things that aren't coming back anymore.
JH: Is there a player or brand that influenced your style?
MH: No, not really. I just like collecting shoes in general and try to get the best rare shoes for my collection. It’s all about the research that you can do in finding a shoe. Most of my passion comes from doing the research and having to go and look for new shoes, as opposed to going to a regular mall and picking up a shoe.
JH: What is your day-to-day process of choosing your rotation?
MH: I go basically on colors. Right now we are in the month of February (we talked right after All-Star Weekend) so the colors don’t really matter. I have been bringing out a lot of things that aren't really going to be seen. So in the month of February you can wear whatever color you want. I have been switching up. I have been playing in some Kobe’s, I had a pair of original Josh Howard (Jordan) PE’s that I wore recently, and gold medal KD IV’s. They are all different colors and that’s what I am sticking to right now. It also has to do with our jerseys and what colors we are wearing that night.
JH: Getting sneakers customized has become a huge part of the NBA. Can you dive into the process and explain some of the ideas you have come up with?
MH: It has definitely come up big. I feel like it started in football first. Those guys have been able to customize their cleats and it kind of just converted into the NBA. A lot of guys go into different things like showcasing their life. For myself, I have been focusing and customizing old cartoons because I watched a lot growing up. I had a couple different '90s cartoons on a pair of LeBron’s for Christmas, I had a pair of Rocket Powerhyperdunks.
For me it was just what I watched growing up as a kid and I have a couple pairs that have come in recently that will pay tribute to my son and my daughter, who is on the way. It’s a lot of guys doing it. The guy who really does great work and I think is a good person is Kickstradomis. He is definitely a big name out there—he has done a lot of great stuff for me recently. He definitely does great work and his details are all the way down to the T, really.
JH: Do you have any sneaker superstitions?
MH: I change my sneakers at halftime every game. It depends how long the road trip is. No matter if it is one game, I am taking two pair of shoes to the arena.
JH: Who are some notable NBA sneakerheads that you respect?
MH: I respect Terrence Ross, Lance Stephenson, and P.J. Tucker does a lot of different things. Those are the guys who catch my eyes off the jump.
JH: The NBA has really taken the initiative to promote sneakers along with highlights every night. As a sneakerhead, what are your thoughts on how the NBA has accepted sneaker culture?
MH: I feel like it has got a lot better. I am actually one of the guys who actually appreciates the freedom of having the chance to wear any shoe and doing different things. Not saying everyone is trying to stick out, but it is giving everyone their own sense of individuality. I feel like everybody has that right to utilize, that right to be their own person.