Photos: @MikaylaWhitmore

Kia Nurse has never been interested in being up next. From a young age, she knew she wanted to be on the same courts as most talented players out there. While just a sophomore, she was on the OFSAA championship team of her Hamilton, Ontario high school, and she went on to help the team win two more titles after that. At just 16 years old, she was invited to join the Canadian National Team “for the experience,” with the idea that she could be on the roster at a later time. She averaged 10 points per game and earned a spot on the team faster than anyone expected. For college, she chose the team she dreamt of playing for since her teenage years, the Huskies. Joining one of the best basketball programs in history, Kia quickly left her mark and earned ACC Freshman of the Year honors in the process. She went on to win two national championships in a Husky uniform before turning pro in 2018.

Now, in just her second year in the league, Kia is a WNBA All-Star starter. While preparing for the 3-Point Contest and All-Star Game, Kia took some time to chat about her pregame style routine, representing the Jordan Brand family and what she’s most excited about during WNBA All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas.

How did it feel when you learned that you were not only playing your first WNBA All-Star game but also starting?

I was shocked. It was a very exciting moment and definitely a goal of mine. I didn’t think it would happen as early in my career as it has. I’m so thankful for everybody who voted for me to be in this game. I’m really excited to be able to represent both my team and Canada itself — to show young women there that this is a possibility for them, as well.

What are you most excited about for the weekend?

I’m excited to get to know players who I probably wouldn’t have otherwise — to be around some of the greats who have played our game. I’ll try to pick their brains a little bit, but I also just want to enjoy the moment. Not everybody in their careers or lifetimes gets this opportunity. I really relish that idea and take on the challenge to the best of my ability.

You’re going to be playing in a special version of Russell Westbrook’s Why Not Zer0.2. Why do you love that shoe?

I love how comfortable it is. The colors may change, but my feet feel great in it every single time. I never have an issue with it. I love the design and colorways. I think Russ [Westbrook] and the PE design team at Jordan Brand are so bold in what they do, which is so much like my personality. It’s a shoe that’s out there but goes with the flow, which is why I’m super excited to wear it.

Russ is really excited that you’re going to be wearing it. How does it feel to have somebody like that in your corner cheering you on?

It’s super exciting. It’s definitely part of being in this close-knit Jordan Brand family, and obviously I completely respect and love his game and what he’s done for the game. I think that the more athletes continue to support each other, both women and men, the more exciting it will be for our game.

How does it feel to be in Las Vegas representing the Jordan Brand family?

It’s incredible. I am so fortunate and grateful for the opportunity. I love how it’s a relatively small number of athletes. It really has that close-knit, family feel. There’s a legacy for each and every athlete, and then everything culminates with MJ. We get to build our own path and legacy within the brand, and that’s the best part about it.

Despite your age, you play like a veteran. Where does that confidence come from?

As a young kid, I was fortunate to be put into a lot of situations filled with really talented veterans. I started with the National Team when I was 16; I was surrounded by some of Canada’s best basketball players while wearing the national jersey. I was surrounded by great leaders from the moment I got there, and being in New York has been the same way. I try to pick up the little intricacies of the game based on their experiences. I just come into every game feeling confident and knowing that I’ve played against the best in the world from a young age. I try to use that to my advantage.

Switching gears to style, it’s all about the tunnel photo these days. Everybody wants to show off their outfit. What’s your pregame style routine like?

It changes every single time! I’ll think, “What’s the weather like?” I’ll make sure that, especially if it’s hot, I’m wearing something comfortable. The direct emphasis of my outfit is usually my shoes. I love whatever Air Jordan shoe I can find. If someone else doesn’t have it, I know that I can definitely wear and build my outfit around it.

How has the routine changed since you signed with Jordan Brand?

Now more than ever, my shoes dictate what my outfit looks like, and it gives me confidence walking in — feeling like no one else has these yet! So I can rock them, but it also allows me to show my style through my shoes and feel ready to go for games.