Interview: Elton Brand & The Converse EB2
Hear first-hand from Elton all about his new EB2!
words & interview_Nick DePaula Media Day image courtesy NBA/ Converse Open Gym images courtesy AP Photos/Mark Stehle After a tough first season in Philly cut short by surgery to help repair a dislocated right shoulder, Elton Brand is looking forward to a year of change. Luckily, he has new team jerseys, a new head coach, and also a new pair of Converse signature shoes to be excited about. For the second year in a row, Converse will be releasing a signature Elton Brand sneaker, dubbed the Converse EB2, and it will be available exclusively at JC Penney stores for just $65. Both the Black/White/Red and White/Black colorway are currently available online on JC Penney's website, at a few bucks off even. I recently had a chance to catch up with Elton over the phone and hear all about his latest shoe and how he's feeling heading into the season. Ever since I first heard about the shoe and it's distribution plan, I've also taken a particular interest in the connection to JC Penney, as like Elton, that's where I got several of my shoes while growing up with a strict spending budget. The EB2 is designed as a versatile shoe with support and durability in mind, and is made with an EVA midsole, circular traction pattern outsole and soft nubuck upper with some nice signature hits tying back into Brand. Sweet shoe, and a great story from both Converse and Elton in dropping a stylish, affordable sneaker. Nick DePaula: How'd you first get involved with Converse after wearing Nike during college at Duke and during your first few years in the league? Elton Brand: Yeah I was wearing Nike during the first few years of my contract, and with Nike owning Converse as a brand, I had the opportunity to go over to Converse. It was a great fit for me, with Converse being such an iconic brand to me growing up. You had Bird, Magic, and Grandmama. [laughs] When I was in high school my AAU team actually wore Converse when I played for Riverside Church. It came up about two years ago, and I was playing with the Olympic qualifying team, and that's when Converse approached me with the opportunity and we really spoke about having my own shoe, and I was on it. Here I have a chance to be a featured guy, and with Nike, you know, they have a lot of guys, which is great, but with Converse though, they give you the attention that you need and having your own shoe is such an honor. They really make a great shoe, and it's not going to wear out fast and is real durable. Just the tradition here is great. For $65, you can really tie these up, buckle 'em up with the straps and go out there and play. These days, it's really hard to get a great sneaker and a great build for that pricepoint, and that's something I feel really good about. Were you big into shoes when you were younger? What shoes did you grow up wearing? You know, that's the thing, there were two things against me. First, size wise, I really couldn't find my size. Secondly, we couldn't really afford 'em. That's what makes me even happier about the pricepoint with my sneakers, cause growing up I wanted all the fly kicks, but I wore a 15 in the 8th grade and we couldn't afford 'em. My brother had some nice Air Force 1's once, and I'd try and wear them sometimes, but I tried to just cram my toes in them and he always knew when I stole them. [laughs] I was just a kid. [laughs] When was it decided that your shoes would be sold at JC Penney? Well that was the Converse marketing and business people that spoke with JC Penney, and it was only a matter of time because they were all aboard. We had a great launch last year, and I'm looking forward to it again, but JC Penney was great for me because that's where my mom would shop for me for some affordable kicks when I grew up. Yeah I actually got all my shoes there too, and always had a $40 limit growing up. Yeah exactly. Sometimes it's best for your family if you can go and get a pair of shoes for around $50, and that's something my mom always stressed to me. Now with my shoe, I think it's something that kids can go get and really feel good about. I had that same spending limit, and I think only one time growing up, she did splurge I think $80, but I had to wear those for as long as possible. [laughs] How involved were you during the design of the shoe? I was very involved, and I'd send them pictures of things I was into or cars that I was feeling a bit. We talked a lot about the styling of it and the designers did a great job. We really looked at everything. They asked me what my favorite car was, and I said, "Phantom!" I love that car and it's like me. It's fast, but it's built and sturdy, and so we looked at that as kind of inspiring the shoe a bit too. What details did you want to make sure were included? The logo. The logo has a lot to do with me with my initials and also DB for Daisy Brand, my mom. I really like how it's simple but there's still certain things that they made sure to add to it that are personal to me. And was the strap something you were pretty adamant about? Yeah I definitely wanted the strap. In the forefoot I really wanted to have that added stability and that was very important to me. The shoe is clean and still has some quickness and agility to it and versatility, but the strap is something they worked in nicely that I wanted. What did you learn about the process after working on your first shoe? I really learned about the comfort they could provide me. My first shoe was very comfortable, and that was something we definitely wanted to stick with. But I also wanted to evolve from the first shoe's strap and take it to a crossing strap on this one to add even some more protection across the midfoot, along with that comfort. There's definitely enhanced lockdown and support from the first shoe, and so far I'm liking it a lot. I really like the way this one feels. Do you have a favorite color? I like the black/white/red the most I'd say, but the white/black is real clean and that's more of an everyday go-to one. I really like them all. And have any of the guys on your team been asking you about your shoes or teasing you since you have your own shoe? A few of them, like Andre, have their own special shoes too, but yeah, they definitely do, and some of the guys have hit me up and want a few pairs too! [laughs] I try and let 'em know that there's a Converse Brand shoe out there! Last year you were hurt and it wasn't quite the start with the Sixers you were probably hoping for. How're you feelin' as the season is getting closer? Man, last year was really tough for me, so I was hoping to really get back out there and return to the form that I was used to. I'd really like to help this team get out of the first round, which is where we've been stuck the last two years. I feel great, I healed up and I'm totally healthy and I'm looking forward to getting back out there. And are you just now getting settled in Philly for the season? Yeah I've been here since the beginning of September, and before that was spending my time out in LA in Cali. I really just had a lot of things to work on to get healthy and get better for the season. What kinds of things were you doing to rehab your shoulder? I had to do some disc moves and strengthening exercises and I was really working on flexibility drills and getting my strength back. At the same time I really had to work on my leg and calf strength too before I had a chance to get back into working on some basketball stuff. I've been in there watching film too and I know I'm gonna be getting a shot this year in the offense, and Coach Jordan is implementing a new offense and we've been working on that. I even picked up yoga. [laughs] When'd you first get a chance to talk with Coach Jordan and what kind of direction did he give you? I first spoke to him during the offseason, and so far in Training Camp he's been extremely hands-on. Every workout and drill he's there pushing us and testing us, which has been awesome. What do you think of the new jerseys for this season? I like 'em. It kind of reminds me of that whole retro, throwback feel and it brings back memories here of the championships that we've had, and it's funny because with Converse we've also gone back to the old Chevron Star logo on my sneakers too. [laughs] So it's just a cool throwback feel around here, and I'm excited about it. Over the summer, Converse lost Dwyane Wade to Jordan Brand. What'd you think of that? I thought it was a good move for him and he did what he had to do there. He had a good run with Converse and had some nice years under his belt, and now he's happy to be with Brand Jordan, which is great. I can't speak for him, but we're happy to be representing Converse over here! Converse EB2 in Black/White/Red: Converse EB2 in White/Black: Just last week on Saturday, October 10th, Elton also took part in Converse's Open Gym at Girard College in Philadelphia and handed out tons of EB2 sneakers to local kids from the area. He also helped with some drills and pick-up games and shared some words of advice. Good luck with a healthy season Elton!