Hang around Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams’ Target Center locker and something will strike you: The guy likes shoes.
Not just the fashionable leopard-print ones he wears to work, but the many basketball sneakers that cascade from his locker as if they were multiplying.
He likes them so much — and has for so long — that last month he and a friend opened a shoe/apparel store in Tucson, Ariz., called Grand VII Premium Sneakers and Streetwear.
He spoke recently about why he has turned his passion for collecting shoes into a business.
Q Why Tucson?
A I have a big fan base out there, and being from California, there are a lot of those shops in L.A., and when I got to school in Arizona, there weren’t any. I really felt it’d be a good investment and good for the kids out there. Instead of waiting for things in the mail, they can go to my shop right down the street.
Q Why a clothing/shoe store as one of your first big investments?
A I’ve always wanted to do that type of store. I’m into things like that. I collect shoes. I feel like it’s a good spot, and maybe open one more in California.
Q Remember the first pair you bought?
A With my money? Or should I say my mom’s money? Probably the Tracy McGrady 2001 or 2002 All-Star Kicks, adidas. They’re shiny blue. A lot of people who know shoes will know what I’m talking about. I think they were like $125.
Q Did you really save up your school lunch money to buy shoes?
A I saved my mom’s money. She used to give me $5 a day to buy food, and sometimes I’d make my own food to save money so I eventually could buy me a few pairs of shoes.
Q Did she find out you were double-dipping?
A Yeah, she noticed it after a while. Where did you get all these shoes from? I told her and she said, “Just tell me if you want shoes.” It took a while, but it was worth it.
Q How many pair do you own?
A Over 100, probably 150 or so.
Q Is there a prized pair in there?
A I have a few. I’d probably say my Olympic Jordan 6s that came out in 1996. I have those that are still in the box and I wore one time. I’d say a lot of shoe collectors would like to grab those off me.
Q How many still fit?
A I was growing when I was still in high school. I have a lot of size 13s that I just kept for hand-me-downs or a raffle thing. But I have a lot of size 14s and 15s, which is I what I wear now.
Q Have you worn most of them?
A Out of 100, I’ve probably worn 25 or 30. I just keep a lot of them in the box for myself or for hand-me-downs, whenever I have kids.
Q Do you wear the same shoes every night?
A I change every night, pretty much. I’ve done that since high school, college. I’m always wearing different shoes every game: Jordan, Nike, adidas. I wear pretty much anything. I’m not [signed] with anybody right now.
Q How many do you keep in your locker?
A Right now, about 30.
Q I read somewhere that you said you were “two feet in” with this enterprise. That’s a good thing to be with a shoe store, isn’t it?
A Did I? I wish I had thought of that intentionally. I’ll have to use that in the future.
Save cheers, boos for next year
The Boston Celtics will arrive at Target Center on Monday for their annual visit without Kevin Garnett, who’s expected to miss at least two weeks because of ankle inflammation.
“We’re going to err on the right side,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers told reporters last week. “At the end of the day, I want him right and I don’t want him half-right.”
The Celtics also are without Rajon Rondo, who’s out for the season because of a torn ACL.
Sacramento coach Keith Smart, after he watched Kings center DeMarcus Cousins scored 34 points in three quarters during Thursday’s 117-103 victory at Phoenix: “We have a unique big man. He’s a big who can play big but has the skills of a guard. He has the whole package. When everything comes along in his life, when he grows up and sells into how he plays every night in the NBA, he’ll be a special talent.”
One for the history books
The Miami Heat’s 27-game winning streak, which ended Wednesday in Chicago, was not only the second longest in NBA history, but it was the second longest among all the four major sports: NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL:
Team Streak Dates
L.A. Lakers 33 11/5/71 to 1/7/72
Miami Heat 27 2/3/13 to 3/25/13
Indianapolis Colts 23 11/2/08 to 12/17/09
Houston Rockets 22 1/29/08 to 3/16/08
New England Patriots 21 12/17/06 to 9/14/08
Chicago Cubs 21 9/4/35 to 9/27/35
wolves’ week ahead
Monday: 7 p.m. vs. Boston (Ch. 29)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. at Milwaukee (FSN+)
Friday: 7 p.m. vs. Toronto (No TV)
Saturday: 7 p.m. vs. Detroit (Ch. 29)
Player to watch: Paul Pierce, Boston
Ray Allen’s gone to Miami, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo are injured, so Pierce by default is the only one of the Big Three (or Big Four) left. Unless you count Jeff Green, who is starting to play like it.
« I don’t like to lose. I hate it. »
Wolves guard Ricky Rubio, nearly in tears after he was certain he was fouled on a potential game-tying shot in Wednesday’s 120-117 loss to the Lakers