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Le Coq Sportif Joakim Noah Sneaker Launch!

Back in April, as the Chicago Bulls were chasing down the eighth and final seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, Le Coq Sportif rolled out the red carpet for their smoothest ball sneaker yet, the Pro Model named and crafted for Bulls big man Joakim Noah. Sneaker Freaker joined a team of select media in a private corner of Chicago's famed House of Blues, where Noah reflected on his relationship with Le Coq Sportif – a union that runs deeper than your average athlete endorsement!

Noah, a New York City kid at heart, is of French, Swedish, and Cameroonian descent. The son of Yannick Noah, former French Open champion in 1983, and Cécilia Rhode, a former Miss Sweden and artist, Noah has understandably spent time in contrasting parts of the globe, including a decade in France, which explains his love of Le Coq Sportif.

"It's very Euro and that's good because, Euro is in right now" Noah says of Le Coq. "It fits into a lot of different looks. I feel like it's a vintage brand and that's cool because that's what I wear and look for." Noah then adds, "Wearing this brand, I feel like it's really me. I don't have to pretend or act a certain way. With this company, I'm wearing the clothes that I would be wearing anyway."

Inspired by the shoe that his father wore, Noah's Le Coq Sportif Pro Model leaves nothing to chance, both in the aesthetic and performance departments. At the launch of his new line, Snkr Frkr were able to get up close and personal with the Pro Model and found the shoe to be lightweight, well-cushioned and responsive - perfect for Joakim Noah's style of play.

During the impressive media event, guests also attended the late season Bulls vs. Cavaliers match-up at the United Center in downtown Chicago, in a contest which saw Noah lead the charge, collecting a team-high 15 rebounds. The Bulls' star also chipped in with 17 points and swatted away four shots in 34 minutes of play, helping the Bulls snare the 108-107 victory over their divisional rivals.

Noah's relentless effort on the court, coupled with his consistently funky style in the street, makes him one of the sport's most unique personalities. An expressive, jubilant, engaging, charismatic and opinionated athlete, Noah is never afraid to be himself... which often means trying something different, like joining Le Coq Sportif or provoking LeBron James. Noah will now bring the same brand his father wore on the tennis court to the locker room Michael Jordan ruled the world from.

Le Coq Sportif will dish out Noah's signature sure, the Jaokim Noah Pro Model to a limited number of retailers in Europe beginning in May. With his long frame stretched out on a couch, the third year pro from the Bulls gave a few minutes of his time to speak with Sneaker Freaker's Matt Caputo about rocking the rooster...

What does it mean for you to be the figurehead of a global brand like Le Coq Sportif?
I feel like I have my own identity out there on the court. What people don't realize is that, I wore this brand when I was a little baby. My Dad wore it and there is a history there. Arthur Ashe wore the brand. He's the first black man to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, but he's also the dude who found my Pops when he was 11 years old and gave him a racket out of the goodness of his heart. He took my Dad out of Cameroon and sent him to boarding school in the South of France. By 17, my Dad was his double's partner at Wimbledon. Those are all the people that wore the brand and without those people I wouldn't be in the situation I'm in today. It's all linked together.

It's kind of like a changing of the guard...
I never tried to outdo my Dad. It's never a competition. He's somebody that isn't afraid to speak his mind and that's something I respect more than any championship. He's my best friend and not a lot of kids can say that. Being a part of this brand is a great way to be linked with him.

Are you excited to be a part of something distinctively French?
I'm from a lot of different places. I am from Cameroon, West Africa. My mother is from Sweden and she moved to New York at 16 to become a model. I lived in France for ten years. So, I don't view myself as more American than French, or more French than Swedish. I love all these places because they are who I am. I don't have a sense of nationalism.

Well, now you're a Bull, a resident of Chicago for six months a year, how has your style grown since you came to the Windy City?
Well, it's changed mostly because I have more money in my bank account (laughs). That makes a difference. I grew up, for the most part, in New York City, I'm from the fashion capital of the world. My Mom is an artist and I'm open minded about fashion. I dress the way I feel comfortable. I have a little swag, but you don't see me in Gucci and Louis Vuitton all the time.

Are you proud of that?
I'm very proud of that.

Speaking of unique and impressive style, where'd you get that killer suit you wore to the NBA Draft?
Oh, my Seersucker suit? It was spring, I wanted to switch it up a little bit. I got a lot of love for it. I got a lot of hate for it. But at the end of the day, people are still talking about that seersucker suit. I still wear the pants sometimes.

We're here to celebrate the launch of your new Pro Model with Le Coq but what kind of kicks did you wear the most growing up?
The Green Air Max 95s. Whooo! Those were funky... I don't wear those any more, now I'm all Roostered-out!

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