words & interview // George Kiel:
During his playing days, Richard “Rip” Hamilton made the most of his Jordan Brand deal by lacing up a wide array of retros and pulling out PEs. As his Instagram followers can attest, he’s stayed busy since hanging it up on the hardwood, still scoring shipments of new Jordan releases by the box load. Currently campaigning with Gillette, we caught up with Rip to discuss his longtime love of Air Jordans, crazy kick collection and which JB athletes would have the best Sneak Peek.[March 20, Las Vegas] Richard “Rip” Hamilton joins Gillette Clear Gel in hosting a college basketball viewing party at The Ainsworth (Isaac Brekken/AP Images for Gillette)
Nice Kicks: What effect did playing with Michael Jordan have on you being an admirer of his sneaker brand?
Richard Hamilton: It had a great effect, but as a kid growing up, the hottest series of sneakers in the world was Jordans anyway. If you had a pair of Jordans on your feet, regardless of what else you had on – a bummed out shirt or dirty jeans – you were considered the freshest in the room at least where I’m from. If you had a pair of Jordans on, everybody looked up to you. I always loved them, but more so I admired what Michael Jordan represented as a player, so it wasn’t just about the sneakers. The brand meant greatness; it meant championships; it meant being aligned with the best player in the world. So when I got the opportunity to play with him in Washington, it really brought everything that I thought about him to light. He was just as cool as the homeboy you grew up with.
Nice Kicks: So you’ve been a Jordan fan of both, him and his sneakers, forever?
Richard Hamilton: Yep. I always thought in order for you to perform on the court at your highest level, you had to look good, and when looking good, you had to have the best sneakers on your feet. So if it wasn’t Jordans, then it wasn’t right in my opinion. I never got into any other brand simply because I thought Jordan had the best sneakers.
Nice Kicks: Tell me about your “Only Take What You Can Carry Out” Rule because I might have to try that when I come out.
Richard Hamilton: [Laughs] You’ll definitely get a try. It started when Antonio, one of my buddies who wears the same size as me, came to my house and told me that he was going to grab a couple of sneakers. It became a pattern every time he stopped by, which was every single day. He would grab like 3-4 pairs each time, so one day I was like, ‘Dude, do you have to grab sneakers every day you come to my house?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, you got them so why not? We wear the same size and I’m your friend, so I should get them.’ After that, I had to think of a challenge for him because he would leave from my house with 15-20 pairs of sneakers each week. So I came up with a golden rule: whatever you can take out of my house and carry to your car, you can keep. I knew what I was doing with the rule because, you know, people get greedy so they’re not going to come in my house and just grab two or three. They’re going to try and stack up as many as they can to carry out. So one day, he came in and tried to carry out like 12-15 at a time. He made it out of the front door, but his stack fell right in the middle of the driveway. So he had to put the whole stack back into my closet. After I posted the footage on Instagram, all of my cousins and friends were like, ‘Yo, I want to try it.’ I let them go at it, but I told them the minimum they had to take is 10 unless you’re a short guy. Then, the minimum is seven. A stack of five or six pairs is too easy to carry out.
Nice Kicks: Who has been the most successful?
Richard Hamilton: Antonio for sure. If you come to my house every single day and try it, you’re going to get good at it. I think he tapped out at 15 boxes one day. He’s an expert now.[March 20, Las Vegas] Richard “Rip” Hamilton joins Gillette Clear Gel in hosting a college basketball viewing party at The Ainsworth (Isaac Brekken/AP Images for Gillette)