Trae Young talks about the negative stigma around little guards, new shoes and hawks

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Four years into his career, Trae Young has already established himself as one of the most electrifying players in all of basketball. Already twice All-Star with an All-NBA selection under his belt, this statement is not hyperbolic … his game confirms it.

With an unprecedented level of scoring and point guard play, Young quickly rose through the ranks of the NBA’s top players and resurrected the Atlanta Hawks from the lottery team to two consecutive playoff appearances, including a Eastern Conference Finals in 2021.

Now, the next step for Young and the Hawks is potentially to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy to help cement his meteoric rise in the NBA. As its fifth season approaches, Young unveils its Trae Young 2 sneaker with Adidas.

“My childhood dream was to have my own basketball shoe and it’s surreal to announce my second basketball with Adidas,” Young said in a press release. “Through our partnership, we aim to inspire future hoopers to dream big and stay true to themselves. I hope others can relate to my journey as an example of what is possible through play. “

With so much more in store for him on the horizon, he sat down with Complex to discuss having a sneaker under the same umbrella as superstars such as James Harden, Damian Lillard and Derrick Rose, chasing the biggest players to having ever played, and his championship aspirations.

(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)

What’s it like to have your own line of sneakers? Was it something you dreamed of growing up in?
For sure, it’s a dream come true. The more shoes I make, the more normal it will never feel. Always seeing kids wearing my shoes is a dream come true and I don’t take it for granted.

Image via Getty/Chris Marion

How do you feel when you see children playing and jumping in your shoes?
It’s crazy. It’s humbling, it’s exciting every time I see someone wearing them, especially kids, because I was the one wearing my favorite player’s shoes on the pitch. I just see myself as those kids and I still appreciate it and it still humbles me when I see kids wearing my shoes.

Can you tell us about your relationship with Adidas? We’ve seen James Harden, Damian Lillard and Derrick Rose be the faces of the brand in the past and now you’re the future. How is this relationship with them?
It’s been really good, every time I see them throughout the season they always show me my trainers and step up my shoes. I was able to meet them several times before I came to the league and now that I have my shoe with the mark, every time I see these guys, even Donovan [Mitchell], we always show love and talk about each other’s shoes. I think especially with Dame and James they are like big brothers to me and having a shoe from the same brand is great.

Is there anything different about these shoes that will help you improve your performance? Building the first pair of sneakers you released?
I will always try to personalize the way I play, being able to always cut fast and run fast will always be important to me. There are new things in the design of the shoe that have not been on any other basketball shoe before when it comes to looks. I’m excited, the way they feel is amazing and I can’t wait for everyone to feel them.

You’ll play this season alongside another All-Star guard in Dejounte Murray. What do you think he will add in particular alongside your game to complement your style of play?
It adds a lot. He is a very versatile guard who can score and pass the ball, but he is also very good in defense and will help towards that end. I think anytime you can add a smart basketball player, I think that’s great for any team. I think he makes our team better and we can’t wait to go out and prove it.

What do you think needs to happen this season for the Hawks to pull back to the Eastern Conference Finals and not have a year of ups and downs similar to last season?
For any team that makes it to the Final Four of the NBA playoffs, there must be a lot of things going right for your team. For us, we have to have healthy guys all year and get off to a good start, and stick with it. Getting this far is not easy, you have to be lucky and some things happen throughout the year and hopefully things will happen later.

Back-to-back playoff appearances for the Hawks are always a step in the right direction. Have you had a chance to step back and see how far the franchise has come in the past two years from where the Hawks were when you entered the league?
Sometimes I don’t look back too much. I appreciate what got me to this point, I take time off every once in a while and appreciate where I am now and put things in perspective, but at the same time I try to look forward. future and carry on because I know I have a long way to go.

Already twice All-Star, All-NBA. You have already achieved a lot, but do you ever think about where you currently stand among the best players in the league and what drives you to keep working to continue becoming one of the best players in the world ?
For me, my motivation is not to compete with current guys. My motivation is when I’m done playing to be considered one of the best players of all time at that time. I’m not trying to compete with guys in the current game because some of my favorite players are retired. I try to be at that level, and some of those guys are still playing today. I don’t get caught up in comparisons and I compare myself to guys now, I try to be one of the best ever.

There is usually a negative stigma around undersized guards as to whether or not they can be the best player on a championship team. Does breaking that stigma add extra motivation for you as a playmaker?
Goofies only thinks that way. Steph was the best player on a championship team and they just won it this year. The little guys showed it. Isiah Thomas won championships, Chauncey Billups won championships. There have been little guys who have led their teams to championships before. I’ve never heard that before, but maybe that’s because I don’t read too much stuff, but I don’t believe in that stigma.

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