Pregame tunnel photos have become the game before the game, a routine where each player flexes their styling muscles. Whenever Boston’s young star Jayson Tatum is captured, he usually has Air Jordans on his feet. And though he’s not the only style-conscious player, Jayson’s love for Jordan Brand started long before arena entrance walkways evolved into fashion show runways.

A scroll down Jayson’s Instagram account reveals a feed that’s full of classic sneakerhead posts, whether he’s sharing new pickups or #KOTD. His love for Air Jordans started as a teenager, but his admiration for the man behind the sneakers developed years before and helped fuel his passion for the game. Born in 1998, Jayson studied his moves and those of his other basketball idols (including longtime Jordan Brand family member, Carmelo Anthony).

Now that Jayson has joined the Jordan Brand family, his “kicks of the day” have new meaning. With his mind already on season three, Jayson took a break from working on his craft to talk about why he’s more motivated than ever.

 


You started collecting Air Jordans when you were a teenager. How does it feel to now be a part of the Jordan Brand family?

It’s a tremendous feeling. Just being a part of the Jordan Brand family… I can’t really express how happy and excited I am for this journey.

We see you in a lot of Air Jordan Is. What makes the shoe so iconic to you? Is it your favorite?

Air Jordan Is are my all-time favorite. They were the first, and they basically set the tone for what was to come. MJ himself made the shoe iconic — just being the greatest to ever do it. To me, it’s the best shoe, and 20-plus years later, it’s still the hottest shoe out.

 


What’s it going to feel like taking the court wearing the latest Air Jordan game shoes, knowing you’re one of the faces of the brand?

It’s truly an honor to be representing the greatest player ever. Being one of the faces at such a young age is super exciting for me.

Who is your favorite Jordan Brand athlete (besides MJ)?

Growing up, Carmelo Anthony was one of the guys who I wanted to model my game after. He’s always been one of my favorite athletes.

 


You’ve been praised a lot about your work ethic, but you still find time to volunteer for basketball camps in the offseason. Why is giving back so important to you?

Giving back is such a key thing to do with this platform I have. It’s about leaving a legacy and trying to impact the younger generation that’s coming up next.

You play in one of the most storied sports cities but never let people forget that you’re from St. Louis. How did growing up there have an impact on your game and style?

St. Louis will always be home. It’s raised me to be the person and player I am. I will never forget my roots.


You’re entering your third season, but you already have a ton of playoff experience under your belt. What are your goals for next season?

My goal for every season is to win a championship. I’m excited to see the roster we’ll have. Ultimately, I’ll take that next step in being a leader and also make my first All-Star game.

We see you lacing your son in a lot of sneakers. Have you gotten him any Air Jordans yet?

Deuce wants to be like me already, so he has every shoe I have (that’s available). We often try to match outfits head-to-toe when we can.