James Worthy: With smartphones, kids are history buffs, they love old players


james-worthy-suitedJames Worthy doesn’t have a problem with kids. Aside from having his own, he’s not upset that the younger generation may not know who he is.

Timed to the release of New Balance’s first signature shoe, the P740 Worthy, former NBA star spoke to SlamOnline about several subjects, including how today’s kids remember him.

“I was in the airport not too long ago, and this gentleman—he must have been about 50—he was trying to tell his grandchild, who was about 7 years old, he was like, Do you know who that is? And the kid was like, No, I don’t know who—he was literally frowning, like, No, I don’t know who he is. And then he got his smartphone, and within like two minutes, his whole attitude changed. He was like, Oh my God,” Worthy recalled.

“With these smartphones today, kids are really history buffs, and they love the old players. So they look up the history. It’s cool that they can get to the information quickly and associate it to you,” he said.

James Worthy, when he first came into the NBA, became known not just for his basketball skills, but also for landing a major sneakers contract. Worthy become Beantown-based New Balance’s first major athlete endorsee of any sort, becoming the NBA’s highest-paid sneaker endorsee—a million-dollar contract.

A few years in, he’d be the recipient of New Balance’s first signature shoe, the P740 Worthy. Nearly 30 years later, it’s being retroed for the first time, and Worthy himself is back in the New Balance fold.

“Coming out of college during the early ’80s, you’re really just looking for a company that will support you. New Balance was a perfect match for me. I went to the factory and saw how it was such a family-oriented company, I wanted to be a part of that,” Worthy noted.

He said he never really thought about his own shoe.

“I was just happy to wear what I thought was the best shoe built for the type of performance that I was looking for on the floor. It was a dream come true to get the Worthy Express.” he said.

Recalling his memories of playing in those shoes, Worthy said he couldn’t stop looking at them.

“I was like, Woah, this is my own shoe. It’s not just a shoe, it’s my own shoe. One of the things I was always impressed with, with New Balance, was how they’d build a shoe. And how they’d build it to support the game that I play—fast, running, jumping. It supported my knees. It wasn’t just like, okay, I got a hot shoe and I got my own shoe. I got a really good shoe that helped me perform night in and night out. It was a good situation all the way around,” LA Lakers legend said.

Answering the question about what it was like to see the shoe evolve from an on-court sneaker to an off-court sneaker, Worthy said he was very humbled when it first came out.

“At 53 years old, I’m just stoked [laughs]. I tell my kids, I’ve got a shoe coming out, and they can’t even handle that. It’s 2014, looking at the modern day shoes, but the retros are cool. Other players have their retro shoes, but this one really has some significance because of the history that the shoe experienced: Against the Celtics and the Pistons, winning Championships in the ’80s. It carries a little bit more significant meaning to it,” he said.

Worthy, a Hall of Famer and 7-time NBA All-Star, played all of his 12 NBA seasons with LA Lakers, winning 3 championships with the team (in 1985, 1987 and 1988).

Worthy is considered to be among the best forwards in history of the NBA, never averaging below double-figures in scoring during his entire career.

He averaged career-high 21.4 ppg for the team in 1990-91. He played in total of 926 NBA games (starting in 717), averaging 17.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg and 3.0 apg in 32.4 mpg.

Read more on Worthy recalling his collaboration with New Balance here.



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