“I remember my uncles would always be talking about, ‘Michaal Jordan, Michael Jordan, Michael Jordan, he’s a baaaaad man, he’s a baaaad man,’ they were always just praising him.” As Troy Daniels recounts some of his earliest memories, his animated tone has the ability to transport you in Roanoke, Virgina in the ‘90’s; despite the slight limitations that FaceTime interviews provide due to social distancing. “I was about five or six at the time, and my mom would turn on the tv, and obviously he was playing for the Bulls at the time and would just absolutely kill it. I always wanted to go in the backyard. I had this little plastic goal, it was yellow, white and red and I used to shoot on it all the time, I’ll never forget it. I had this little piece on concrete, used to shoot out there all the time. That’s when I really fell in love with basketball.”
Everyone knows Michael Jordan the G.O.A.T, but few have experienced Michael Jordan, the Boss. From his time on the Charlotte Hornets, Troy affirms that there’s truly a shift of energy when he enters the room.
A sly smile washes over Troy’s face as he chuckles, “I’ll never forget, every time he’d walk into practice, I’m trying to make a great pass, trying to make EVERY shot, it was just that feeling, that aura about him.” Curious how Jordan’s historic competitive drive revealed itself as a boss, Troy recounted a time when the team’s playoff dreams were deteriorating from poor performance. Entering a meeting, Troy remembers, “he just explained to us, this is your chance to make a name for yourself. You could feel that competitive edge, just in the tone of his voice. Sometimes, you know, he’d be mad, he’d literally be mad, he’d be like ‘you guys aren’t earning your paychecks’ and this and that, he’d love to say that. As a basketball player, and as a man, you’d look at it, and be like ‘bet’ and you’ll use that tone and definitely respond in the right way. It was a great time when I played for the Hornets.”
While there’s no denying the impact that Michael Jordan had on Troy’s basketball career, the lasting effect of his brand will be something Troy carries in his everyday life, well beyond his final game in the league. While he doesn’t remember the exact age he got his first pair of Jordans, he emphasized to me that there was a time growing up he got every release.
The Jordan brand will always be a part of me. It will always be a part of me, til the day I die.”
I’m willing to admit, I’m a sneaker novice in the grand scheme of the sneakerhead world, so Troy turned back the pages of his experiences for me. The six am Saturday wake up calls, a pinch of anxious nerves running through his head as hopes stayed afloat that there’d be enough size 12’s for him to get his hands on a pair. The camaraderie that often fell upon the line to get in the store, as they’d eat breakfast and converse about their experiences alongside other Jordan fans. Hearing Troy reflect on these stories, there’s a special appreciation he had for his mom’s involvement in his collection that I really took note to. As he grew older and as his schedule became busier, it was his mom who would go to the store on Saturday mornings, making sure her son still had the latest Jordans. It was as if she saw a passionate glimmer for the brand with her son, foreseeing the gratitude that he’d have for his future collection.
“With my mom, it wasn’t just the Jordans. We had to get the Jordan sweatsuit to match too. I would literally come to school Jordan’d out! I’d have the Jordans, the socks and then the whole sweatsuit! It’s just something that’s a part of my culture, a part of my life, and it’s something I’ll hold onto for the rest of my life. Literally, I could talk about Jordan’s all day.”
The first pair of Jordan 1’s were released in 1985, and it’s truly remarkable that the iconic nature of its design fails to fall out of trend throughout the years. It also happens to be not only a staple in the style of Troy Daniels, but his favorite release. There’s an enthusiastic heat to his words as he tells me, “The 1’s tho…EVERY color…I try to make sure I have every color. I think this past year, and really in this quarantine process, I haven’t really gotten any shoes or anything like that, but I try to get EVERY Jordan that comes out, literally. But right now, there’s SO many Jordans that are coming out, that it’s hard to keep up sometimes!”
The standing success of the design is an unspeakable sense that lives within Jordan enthusiasts, something even Troy
himself doesn’t have a set answer for. “I don’t know. I think it’s just that urban culture, you know what I mean. It’s something about the design, the color schemes they come up with, that just gives you that type of swag that attaches to that urban culture. I think right now, the style is almost in the era of that 1985 type vibe, especially here in LA, it’s a whole different vibe, you can really feel it. My collection is pretty crazy when it comes to Jordans. It’s pretty scattered around the country to be honest with you, but I have a place in North Carolina, which is my main place and most of my shoes live. But I do have quite a few here in LA too.”
“My style is free. I think it fits me,” he states. There’s an approachable and outgoing demeanor to Troy’s personality, something that easily translates into his fashion style. “I think my style and my swag really fits me. I like to wear colorful things. Recently, I’ve really gotten back into the bigger t-shirts, and for my pants, I like them to be tight, but comfortable.” Troy signed with Nike upon entering the NBA, merging his early love for the brand with his professional and personal style. The game of basketball is always in play for the fashion choices he makes. Finding inspiration from his peers, he reveals, “I actually do, I piggy-back off a lot of other athletes as well. I see what they are wearing and say ‘ok, ok, let me try that BUT with my own little twist’. Figuring out what truly FEELS best to you with your personality and then really not caring what other people think about it.”
There’s a number of guys in the league that Troy thinks kill it in the fashion game, but one former teammate stands out particularly. “I really like Kuz’s style right now, because he really doesn’t care what people think and I told him one day, ‘you’re really painting like a canvas, and a lot of people are looking at that canvas like it doesn’t even really look like a picture or anything, but then that canvas will sell for thousands and thousands of dollars, it’s like a masterpiece.’ That’s how I see Kuz’s style and swag, it fits him perfectly, and that’s all that really matters at the end of the day.”
The conversation can’t help but turn back towards The Last Dance documentary, and as excitement for the final episode boils, there’s an agreement of how the film’s importance transcends entertainment. “I like how MJ is just so real. He got emotional in one part in the documentary. Some people in documentaries are just saying what they think people want to hear, but he’s giving it to you real and raw. He doesn’t care about if you want to hear it or not. I appreciate it so much because you don’t get that much realness sometimes. Especially when you think people might look at you differently or they’re not going to like you now, whatever the case may be.
Beyond the Jordans on his feet, is there an area of Troy Daniels’ style that he believes will remain unprecedented throughout time? Troy believes it will be his love for suits, stating that he hopes to make wearing them more consistent in his everyday life. The powerful notion of “A man in a suit” is a vision Troy hopes will become synonymous with his brand. His suit style: Italian and fitted all the way, something that preaches that strong message. He has an affinity for the minor details that make a suit unique and special to the individual wearing it. The perfectly placed pocket square, a stitch of initials on the cuff, a blend of thoughtful accessories that as Troy says, “makes the whole shabang pop.”
I think a lot of guys in the NBA are watching this and some of the stuff you’re seeing is going to translate when we get back on the court!”
It’s amazing to see how far the MJ touch has gone in the life of Troy Daniels. Just a kid in Roanoke, Virginia hoping to snag a pair of size 12 sneakers, has embraced the bigger message behind a man and a brand. “It takes a lot of sacrifices to have that (Michael Jordan) mindset, and not everybody is built like that either, but you can take bits and pieces of what he’s done and apply it to your everyday life. It doesn’t even have to have anything to do with basketball, it’s just how you approach certain stuff. He approached everything as ‘I’m going to win.’ It was either win or nothing, and I feel like that’s how you should live your life. You shouldn’t live your life going into something saying ‘I hope it happens, maybe it’ll happen,’ No! It’s going to happen. I think that’s what I want to apply to my basketball career as well as any business endeavors and how I approach life.”