It was a long evening, but Fashion’s Night Out at Saks Fifth Avenue was well worth it. I interviewed one of my favorite athletes, Amar’e Stoudemire from the New York Knicks, and took a photo with him. Yeah, I was totally shameless.
Stoudemire was scheduled to sign copies of his new children’s book STAT: Standing Tall and Talented #1: Home Court on the sixth floor, but I waited for my interview with the power forward inside the lux Men’s Club tucked in a corner of the floor. The carpeted room was filled with a chess set, roomy couches, fashion books for dudes, and cushions made of various animal hides — it was an upscale version of a man cave. Moments later, the man of the hour arrived in a fitted Calvin Klein suit and chic Tom Ford leather lace-ups, and of course, with his beautiful fiancee Alexis Welch in tow.
I shot up out of my seat because I really didn’t know what to do in his presence — sit, stand, or bow? So, I moved to another couch opposite where the 29-year-old Florida native was standing, and as fate would have it, he sat in the spot I just vacated. I gave up my new seat, and found myself next to him instead. (Then the fan girl in me kicked in and I wanted to do a little “Gangnam Style” jig.)
The Knicks unveiled their new team jersey yesterday afternoon, which Stoudemire says ais “very much approved.” Sadly, they didn’t bring back short shorts from the 80s and 90s. “I like my shorts a little bit shorter, but not that short,” he confessed.” But I do like them a little bit baggier, so I can move with no restrictions.”
Wearing the same jersey all the time can get boring, but once STAT’s off the court, the power forward likes to dress for the occasion. “My personal style reflects my character,” he told us. “Whatever the occasion is, I dress for the occasion. And however I feel, I just go with it.”
And indeed he has. Stoudemire is always rocking tailored suits, nerd chic cardigans, and blinged out accessories. Speaking of style, who is Stat’s pick for the Knicks’ best dressed player? “I think you’re looking at him!” And as for the worst dressed: “It’s really hard to pick one. But I think we all have pretty good style for the most part, it’s hard to pick a worst dressed.”
STAT has been a front row fixture for several fashion seasons now, and is a handpicked Anna Wintour favorite. But he’s skipping the shows this year, and instead, training with Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon. “I’ve been training with Hakeem for two weeks for post moves, and I’d like to post my positon and have more opportunities to get my shot up.” That means that he’ll only attend a Calvin Klein dinner this week, and then it’s back to work.
With Ryan Lochte‘s forthcoming line and the recent announcement that Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo is GQ‘s newest fashion intern, there’s no shortage of male athletes making their foray into the industry. But just like his jersey number, Stoudemire did it first.
“I think I pioneered this movement. I think I started it all three years ago when I ventured out into fashion. Athletes weren’t known to have their own line or to be as involved in fashion. I think once they saw me in fashion, everyone started to think it was cool to be in fashion. And now, everyone’s trying to be — you know. So, I see myself as a pioneer.”
After the interview was over, he was whisked away to sign copies of his book. I waited patiently and hovered like a bee around his public relations crew for a chance to snag a personal photo with the star, and an hour and half later, it happened. I was told to stand right next to him as he was taking off his microphone, and click —the moment was over. The result? His eyes are closed, and it looks like he’s taking off his belt or something. But hey, it’s still a picture with Amar’e Stoudemire. My lifelong dream is complete.