as told by Steve Mullholand
published in Issue 45 of Sole Collector Magazine, the 10th Anniversary Issue
This was the first issue that we had somebody big on the cover.
We didn’t have a model, we had TMac, and back then, he was balling. He was on the All-Star team, had his own shoe and was really lighting it up.
Tracy was cool enough to invite us over to his house for the photoshoot, and he actually owned the house that Payne Stewart the golfer owned. It had this magnificent gate and this crazy driveway. You roll in and he has all these cars with insane rims and everything.
It was Kevin [Roberts, photographer] and I, and this model. It was actually pretty funny, because Kevin was like, ‘Hey, you know what, we’re a couple of guys going to Tracy McGrady’s house. Let’s bring a girl.’ I’m thinking, ‘Well that makes a whole hell of a lot of sense.’ [Laughs] It’s not just a couple of random white guys, at least we got some eye candy.
So we get there, and thank God we did. We’re looking through his house, and the whole time we’re thinking, ‘Where can we shoot him for the cover?’
We didn’t want him by the cars or just holding the shoe; we knew we had to make it something interesting and unique. Plus, this really was our first celebrity cover. The house was just beautiful, and it was two stories with this amazing balcony.
Kevin was outside downstairs looking for places to shoot, and I’m upstairs on the balcony. He just goes, ‘Hey, where you’re at, the light is perfect and we should just shoot him there.’
McGrady comes out to the balcony and Kevin and the model come over too. TMac is just like, ‘Nah man, I’m not getting up on the railing of the balcony.’
Of course, Kevin in all his flamboyancy says, ‘Ah come on, man, you’re not gonna get hurt. You’ll be fine.’
Here I’m thinking in the back of my mind, ‘Now, this is an All-Star NBA player. Not that we’re responsible if anything happens, but I sure don’t want it on my watch.’ [Laughs] Kevin is like, ‘Ah fuck it, it’s just the railing.’ Although of course, it’s 100 percent concrete below and a solid drop down. [Laughs]
So our model doesn’t even miss a beat, jumps up on the rail herself, swings her legs around and says, ‘Like this. This is nothing.’
McGrady looked at her, and I could just see it in his eyes: ‘Ah shit.’ [Laughs]
So he had to jump up on there after she did.
So Kevin goes downstairs and takes a bunch of photos looking up at him, and it turns out amazing.
We've got McGrady on the cover with one red patent leather TMac III and one blue patent leather III, and it was really cool because we had the cover of what he was going to wear in the All-Star Game.
Back then, nobody knew what shoes people were wearing til you watched the game on TV, and players barely even had special All-Star shoes.
It was a big, big deal to have it on the cover. Nobody saw it until the morning that Alex [Retrokid] & AG were on ESPN when they had that show “Cold Pizza.” We're on “Cold Pizza” and showing off the cover and the shoes before the All-Star Game. It just blew up. People we didn't even know were emailing us, “Hey, what's this Sole Collector Magazine?” It turned out to be a really big deal for us so early on in the magazine.
Sole Collector Magazine // Issue 3 -- February 2004