Interview: Kevin Porter Jr. on the Power of PUMA Hoops
Hailing from Rainier Beach, Seattle (where he led the Vikings basketball team to four straight state playoffs), Kevin Porter Jr. has quickly become one of the most explosive talents in the NBA. Playing a hybrid shooting guard/point guard role for the Houston Rockets, KPJ is set for a breakout year in 2022–23, the Naruto-loving ninja ready to emulate the heroics of his on-screen idols. We chopped it up with KPJ while he spent a week with PUMA's design team in Boston to discuss his collaborations with the Big Cat, high tops versus low tops, and the future prospects for one of the NBA's most exciting young talents.
You've been building a strong relationship with PUMA for the past three years, going on four. Tell me about the week you're spending with the PUMA design team.
I usually meet up at PUMA in Boston once a year. We have a bunch of blueprints and colabs that are going to come out in a year or two that we're working on now. Seeing the time and the production processes is the craziest part. I've really been able to understand how long apparel takes, how long making one shoe takes, and all that goes into it. Being able to be a desk guy for these days in the office has definitely been dope.
What have been some highlights for you so far?
It's the atmosphere in here! It's no different to being on the court. You can tell it's a great brand that PUMA are building, especially at PUMA Hoops.
Just being here and having that resilience to come in and work and just be surrounded by lights, noises, construction. Every day. You just get a different level of respect, and you see it from a different side versus just hearing it. I get to see what they do from 7 am all the way till 6 pm.
What do you play in?
I play in the PUMA RS Dreamer, the All-Pros. I love the All-Pros. Very flexible. They are low tops – which I prefer. I also wear sub mids, like the LaMelos. PUMA's sneakers are great because you can wear the shoes off the court, too.
You're a low guy. Why is that? Is it the freedom?
Yeah. How I move and how I play. I have a tweak, and I jerk a lot. So I feel more mobile. I don't tape my ankles because I feel my mobility is limited. So I just like having freedom. And I like to dance!
And what about injury? Is that a concern playing in lows?
I don't think so. I twisted my ankle in high tops the same exact way as low tops. I just think strengthening your ankles, strengthening your knees, your joints, and doing your tendonitis work helps prevent ankle sprains because your ankles are strong enough to catch you when your ankles lean in.
I think that's why people get high tops, because of ankle support, which is a given. You have that cushion, that material around your ankle. I think there are just a lot of different things that go into it.
Post-basketball, where do you see your career headed?
I'll try to use basketball to create my own brand one day and just expand on that. Right now, I love living in Houston, playing where I do and want keep doing my best to lead the way!
I'd love to understand your connection to sneakers.
Michael Jordan was the biggest player growing up, and you always wanted a pair of Air Jordans. So that's kind of where my wanting sneakers, not Jordans, but wanting sneakers, kind of came from: just me being an athlete and seeing a cool pair of shoes and sneakers. I think I kind of started going outside the box when I got older, and I always saw PUMA around. PUMA was very affordable for us. Like the classic Suedes. I always gravitated towards the brand. When I got to college, I want to say that's when I started expanding into boots. I love boots, big oversized shoes, like the Balenciagas – big old shoes.
Like a chunky dad shoe. Is that your vibe?
Like just big old shoes. And then I have the side where I want to be clean cut, and it's just all white or all black. Classic. I can go with some PUMA Suedes or something like that. I'm either very out there, or I'm very mellow. Nowhere in between.
What do those two sides of sneaker love say about you?
When it comes to the big boots, I feel like they bring out my personality. When I go clean-cut, it’s about being more neat and professional. Polished. I feel like people can kind of see how I am as a person and see my personality through my fashion.
For more on PUMA, make sure to check out Sneaker Freaker's epic TRINOMIC SYSTEM-INFORMATIONEN book!