The Jordan Brand team has experienced one of its biggest renovations in quite some time this past NBA offseason. The addition of young stars like Jayson Tatum, rookie Rui Hachimura, and No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson see the Jumpman prepping for the future.
One man who has been a mainstay with the brand for years is Blake Griffin.
Since officially teaming up back in 2012, Griffin has been the face of the now-defunct Super.Fly performance line, lacing up the annual model on the hardwood from season-to-season.
This year, Griffin enters his second full season as a member of the Detroit Pistons. It also marks the first time in a long time that he won’t be promoting the Super.Fly. Instead, the Air Jordan 34 will be his sneaker of choice.
Griffin recently made an appearance at Foot Locker’s Detroit Power Store to promote the 34 ahead of the 2019-2020 NBA regular season opener. We caught up with the veteran forward to get his thoughts on Williamson signing with Jordan Brand, why he doesn’t play in Air Jordan retros, dabbling in stand-up comedy in his downtime, and more.
Check out the full interview below.
You were the face of the Super.Fly line for many seasons, but this year you are going to be wearing the Air Jordan 34. What are your thoughts on the new model so far?
I love it, man. I think that the 34—whatever shoe is new is kind of always the shoe that has been innovative and they’re always trying to do new things with it. So to step into that shoe is a different feel from the Super.Fly. But it’s been a great transition just getting to wear all this new technology all at once. It’s definitely a different feel, but it’s definitely something that I’ve looked forward to.
You recently got a chance to play in it for preseason. How do you feel about it?
I feel great about it. Whenever I meet with designers, I have a sort of unrealistic list of things that I want in a shoe, and it feels like they’ve been able to do that. Obviously, I like comfortability with shoes. But for me, I want to have really good stability. Being a big man, I can’t really wear a guard shoe. So I’m sort of getting those two to combine. And also, I’m pretty sure this is one of the lightest Jordans that they’ve had in a long time. So having all those in one shoe seems like it shouldn’t work, but it does. I definitely felt that early on when I first wore this shoe and definitely felt it last night in that first preseason game.
What are your thoughts on Zion Williamson signing with Jordan Brand?
I mean, it’s perfect, man. He’s obviously a dynamic athlete, but I think what I liked the most about him, watching him last year, was just how much more of a complete basketball player he is.
Obviously, we see all the dunks, and I’ve been seeing that since high school, but I was always kind of curious to what kind of basketball player he was. And like I said, he really surprised me. So I think it’s great for him to be a part of Jordan Brand, yes. We like to feel as a select group of guys and he fits right in. So him, Jayson Tatum and, and Ray, too. Yeah, it’s a great fit.
What are your expectations for him in his rookie year?
There’s going to be a learning curve [for Zion in the NBA] obviously. I think he’s probably 19 having one year in college—one year removed from high school. There’s going to be a learning curve. So for him, I think just getting in and learning the game and don’t shy away from the things that make them great and the things that got him here. But at the same time he’s going to have to work on all these other things. From what I hear, he’s a hard worker and a great kid. So I expect him to make that transition, make it looks fairly easy, easier than probably most rookies.
Derrick Rose is a new member of the Pistons this season. He seemed to have found his place in the league again last year. What are your thoughts on playing with him?
I’m very, very excited to play with him this season. I’ve known Derrick since high school and we were in the same high school class, played a bunch of tournaments against each other at McDonald’s All American game, played against each other in college. And then obviously in the NBA. Our history goes way back, but he’s a great player. And just in the short time we’ve been at camp you can see what makes him so special. Just his speed and quickness and the way he does things is impressive. But I think the thing I’m looking forward to the most is playing with a guy who, with his mindset, he’s a guy who’s sort of an ultimate competitor and wants to win and you can never have too many of those guys on your team. So I’m very excited to have them here.
There’s a lot of parity across the NBA this season. How do you feel about the Pistons chances to make some noise?
I like our chances. The league sort of has the most parity that it’s had in a while. But even when there wasn’t parity, teams are sort of an injury away from not quite being the same team or a team might be a trade away from being a better team. So you never know for us. It’s like I said was with Derrick—he’s a competitor. I think we have a lot more guys like that. We’ve gotten some veteran guys who play meaningful games, meaningful minutes, who are competitors. I love that. Like I said, you can never have too many. So I expect this to take the next step. Last year was with coach Casey being in his first year. I think we wanted to lay the foundation and I think we did that by getting back into playoffs. But this year we want to take that a step further. We have to accomplish a lot of little goals along the way to get there, but that’s the ultimate goal.
You are obviously a big fan of retro Air Jordans, but is there a reason we don’t see you play in them like some of the other guys around the league do more frequently?
Like I said, I think with the Super.Fly and obviously the AJ34, now there’s a lot of new technologies that are going to be in shoes. And the kind of guy that, you know, I want every advantage I can get. So the Super.Fly was always about pushing the envelope there. And I know with the 34 it’s the same thing. With this Eclipse Plate they put in, to me, is sort of the new wave of where you’re seeing footwear go. Something that gives you great stability, but like I said earlier, light enough to not feel like it’s wearing you down. So that’s really why I always stick to whatever’s new and whatever’s coming out as I always kind of want the best leading technology in my shoe.
Can we expect you to break out some retros for a game or two this season?
I’m sort of a creature of habit, man. Once I get into my routine and I wear a shoe and get used to it. I don’t love switching it up even for a game or two here. I’m sort of weird like that. So I don’t know. I’ll probably leave that to those guys [like PJ Tucker], but I’ll be wearing the 34 this year.
You recently participated in the Roast of Alec Baldwin. What was that experience like? Could stand-up comedy be a path for you after basketball?
It was a fun experience. I grew up watching some of those different roasts and I’ve always enjoyed it. So when I got asked, I thought it’d be a lot of fun, and it was. Just getting to sit there and thinking that in a different way and try to come up with these jokes that you’ll be saying to people in a room as well. Little weird, but it was fun. And then as far as standup goes, nah man, this is something that I started doing, and I enjoyed doing it just because it kind of gets me out of my comfort zone a little bit, and I have to think a little bit differently. It challenges me, but I don’t know if that’s going to be a career path for me when I’m done playing. I kind of see it as something that sort of gives me a tool for the future.