words & interview_Brandon Richard
images_Chris Morris

When Golden State Warriors point guard C.J. Watson isn't raising the bar on the court, he's raising awareness off of it. Watson's Quiet Storm Foundation is a non-profit corporation that aims to provide educational opportunities to young and disadvantaged children. This past weekend, C.J. went back to Tennessee, where he played his college basketball, to take part in the Hoops for Hope Tennessee Style event. The event was geared toward teaching children about health, education, and leadership - all values that are embraced by the Quiet Storm Foundation. While C.J. was preparing for the event on Friday Night, I was able to catch up with him to chat about sneakers, competing against players he watched growing up, and making a successful transition from the NBA D-League to the NBA.

Brandon Richard: This weekend, your Quiet Storm Foundation is taking part in the Hoops for Hope Tennessee Style event. Why do you feel that it's important to take time out and give back to the community?
C.J. Watson: I think it's important to give back to the community because I always said if I ever made it, I would give back. There were influential people in my life that took the time to talk to me and give me advice to do the right things, and if I can reach one kid or maybe even more, I think my job is somewhat done. My goal is to give back and to help others. Especially less fortunate children who may not ever have a chance to go to a basketball camp, learn different fundamentals, or valuable life lessons.

During the 09-10 season, we saw you wear several sneaker models including the Huarache 2010, Blue Chip II, KD II, and iD versions of the Zoom Kobe IV and V. Was there a particular pair that stood out as your favorite?
I like to wear different types of shoes here and there during the season to show some type of style and flavor, but my favorite shoe that I wore was the Huarache 2010 because of the comfort and unique style that the new model had.

You wore adidas sneakers at the University of Tennessee, and again as a member of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. How did the transition to Nike happen and what is it that you prefer, if anything, about their shoes?
The transition to Nike wasn't hard at all. I love Nikes and always have since I was little. To me, Nikes are more comfortable, lighter, and feel better on my feet.

Were you a fan of sneakers growing up? What were some of your favorite pairs as a youngster?
I have been a sneakerhead since I was about 12 or 13 years old. One of my favorites was the Air Max '95. Some of the first shoes that I had were the Grant Hill Filas. I had every pair. And, of course, the Jordan 2s were my favorite as a kid.

Who were some of the players that inspired you to get on the court? How does it feel to play against some of the guys you grew up watching?
My parents were the first to get me on the court playing basketball in the front or back yard, but Kobe was my favorite player growing up and I wanted to be just like him. It's weird to actually play against someone you admired, or other players that I played with on video games and now play with or against them.

As one of the players that successfully worked their way up from the D-League to the NBA, what's the main piece of advice you could offer to a young player whose path doesn't necessarily go as planned?
Doesn't matter how you get to the NBA. You may go a different route, but the hardest part is getting in and staying in. Just keep the confidence, keep getting better, and work on your game.

via G2C Designs