Kawhi Leonard is one of the best players in the game. And, it turns out, he’s a major sneakerhead. Check out the Q&A where Kawhi discusses the AJ XXXI, his favorite kicks, his first pair of Js, and more.
And check out the new AJ XXXI ‘Royal’ that Kawhi is repping in the photos. The AJ XXXI ‘Royal’ and the Retro 1 ‘Royal’ will be available April 1 on eastbay.com.
Why did you choose the AJ XXXI as your on-court shoe?
Just because it’s light and it still has the comfort level. I do a lot of cuts and movements in a game and it’s a very durable shoe.
What’s your favorite part of the AJ XXXI?
I like how it went back to the classic AJ 1. It kind of looks like a classic Jordan 1 and I like how the Nike logo transitions into the Jumpman logo.
Do you feel like the shoe compliments your work on the defensive end?
Yeah, yeah, like I was saying, I feel like it’s a durable shoe. I do a lot of cuts, trying to get around a lot of picks. Big men try to set a pick on me and [the shoe] is light as well so I can chase guys around.
Do you have a favorite AJ XXXI colorway?
Obviously the white and blacks are the ones that I play in and my favorite color. It goes well with our jerseys and you can wear it with anything.
What does your PE logo mean to you?
It means a lot. Just being a child and looking at guys’ shoes and wondering if one day you could get your own shoes. It’s just amazing. You see that transition from high school to college to the pros and then you look down and you’re on the floor and see your own logo on your shoes.
Does it feel extra special to have it be on a Jordan?
For sure. Growing up, [MJ] was my idol. I just wanted to become a player like he was.
How many pairs of Js do you own?
Probably over two or three hundred pairs.
Do you have a favorite?
My favorite Jordans are probably the Retro 3s. I like the ‘True Blue’ colorway.
What was your first pair of Jordan’s?
I was probably too young to even remember. I know the first ones that stood out to me were the black and red 13s. Those are one of my favorites as well.
Did you play ball in them?
No, I don’t think I did. I used to try and take care of my shoes even that young at six years old. I came home, took them off, and put some outside shoes on (laughs).
You always made sure to keep them extra fresh?
Oh, yeah. For sure.
Once Kawhi Leonard steps onto the court, his laid-back personality fades away and the game’s most relentless defender emerges.
Nobody wants to see the two-time Defensive Player of the Year matching up against them. His lock-down defense gives even the game’s best scorers headaches, and his offensive repertoire rivals anyone’s.
The 25-year-old’s scoring average has improved each season. These days, he puts up 25 points a night while also being tasked with shutting down the opposing team’s best player.
His versatility is a scary thought for opponents, but the fact that he’s still getting better is even scarier. The sky is the limit for Kawhi Leonard, and his rise has only just begun.
Kawhi’s Challenge To You
Kawhi Leonard is finishing up one of the best two-way seasons in league history. The defensive stalwart is easily one of the best defenders in the league, and in recent years he has become the focal point of San Antonio’s offense.
In a game where offense is king, Kawhi Leonard is the rare superstar who works on his defensive abilities as much as his offensive abilities. The mentality to dominate both ends of the court stems from Leonard’s experience as a football player in his youth.
Kawhi Leonard in the Jordan Retro 11 CDP.
words // Nick Engvall
Kawhi Leonard of San Diego State put his name on the map in last year’s Mountain West Conference Tournament. Leonard led the Aztecs to their first MWC Tournament title since 2006 and grabbed the Most Valuable Player Award along the way.
For the 2010-2011 season, he has improved in nearly every statistical category and led San Diego State to a school record 34 wins so far. While many people are quick to argue that the MWC is not competitive, a quick glance at the national rankings will prove otherwise. The Mountain West Conference includes BYU, the only team to beat San Diego State this year, and has had as many teams in the top 10 as both the ACC and Big East for much of the season. SDSU defeated BYU for the MWC Tournament behind 20 points and eight rebounds from Kawhi Leonard.
Kawhi Leonard’s 15.6 points per game and 10.6 rebounds per game have carried the Aztecs throughout the season and into the tournament where they got their school’s first NCAA Tournament win against Northern Colorado. While his stats are impressive, Kawhi Leonard has also become a favorite in our NCAA Watch coverage, thanks to his diverse sneaker collection.
Kawhi Leonard in the Jordan Retro 11 Space Jam.
Kawhi Leonard in the Nike Zoom Kobe VI.
Kawhi Leonard in the Jordan Retro 6.
Kawhi Leonard in the Jordan Retro 3.
Kawhi Leonard in the Bred Jordan Retro 11 CDP.
Kawhi Leonard in the Jordan Retro 5 from the Raging Bull pack.
images courtesy of Yahoo