Serving as a retail and brand experience hub for athletes and creatives, Jordan recently opened up its new store in downtown Los Angeles coinciding with the release of the Air Jordan XXXIII, the first basketball shoe to feature FastFit technology.
Jordan aims to provide the ultimate lockdown sneaker combing comfort, performance and style to prepare athletes for flight on the court. The new innovative laceless system loops on the tongue and heel allowing easier entry. The tightening system activates its cables with a single tug of the forefoot strap, creating a full 360-lockdown.
“Flight” has always been the heart and DNA of the Jordan brand, and there’s no one better to represent the mentality to “fly high” more than Moritz Wagner – a young athlete from Berlin, Germany drafted to the LA Lakers, and now an official part of the Jordan family. From his humble beginnings in Berlin to helping take the University of Michigan to the NCAA Championship game to finally making it to the greatest stage of all, the NBA, he’s always dreamed big.
Highsnobiety caught up with the rising star at the new Jordan store in Downtown LA to celebrate his journey and welcome him to the Jordan family.
With so much pressure and spotlight on the Lakers this year after acquiring LeBron James, one would think a rookie like Moe would feel a bit nervous starting his first NBA season with so much spotlight, but it was quite the opposite. He seemed genuinely excited as he made his way through the Jordan store examining the new AJXXXIII.
When asked about being part of the Jordan family, he tells us, “It’s my first year in the league; it’s my first year as a professional and to join a company like this is a privilege. I feel honored.”
He then shows us the new laceless technology built into the basketball sneaker and how the tightening system provides tons of support while he plays. Moe adds, “You don’t really have to tie anything; it takes two seconds to put it on. It’s a pretty fun story to tell when people come up to you ask you how do you tie it.”
Overcoming odds isn’t anything new for Wagner. Growing up in Germany where basketball falls behind soccer, hockey, and handball as the most popular sport and where there’s a very small window to make it to the NBA, hope can easily be lost. With a love of the game and a drive to fly higher than expectations, Wagner made his way out of his home country to the University of Michigan where he dominated. He was awarded the 2018 All-Big 10 second team selection by both the coaches and the media, and became the 2018 Big 10 Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament MVP.
“I planned to go to college. I wanted go to college,” he states. “I wanted to be successful at college and then I wanted to get drafted and now it’s kinda in the stars what’s gonna happen next, but I’m excited to keep on going and see what’s up.”
Season after season, the percentage of international players continues to increase in the NBA, opening doors for younger generations of kids to pick up a basketball. Now, Wagner is one of a handful of German players that are “part of the new generation of Germany” in representing their country in the league.
“It honestly makes me the most proud to be part of this group that made it to the NBA and hopefully stays in the NBA as well and plays an important role. I think there is a significant impact on the little guys and girls also trying to achieve their best in whatever they do, whether it’s NBA or whatever they wanna do in life. It definitely makes me very proud.”
For Moe, Dirk Nowitzki was his biggest role model growing up. He was one of the first German all-stars in the NBA, and became a beacon of hope for many back home.
“He was a big impact. For us, he’s a symbol of ‘it’s possible.’ This was a skinny white kid who kinda found a way to do it and showed us it’s possible. I obviously rooted for the Mavericks in the Finals each time so I was very happy when he won the championship. It motivates me to keep going and keep working.”
Wagner’s dreams have come true this year after being drafted by one of the most prestigious NBA organizations in history: the LA Lakers. Even after working with them in the offseason and with the preseason coming to a close, the look of excitement that comes with wearing the iconic purple and gold is still plastered on his face.
“It’s kinda crazy because it’s such a big brand, everyone knows it, even at home, people know the Lakers. Even if you’re not a basketball fan, you know who the Los Angeles Lakers are, so it’s kinda crazy to be part of that franchise. It’s also something I’m very grateful for. To play on that stage and to be able to play for a championship, it’s something that I really appreciate.”
Not only is he a great asset for LA, the team is a strong asset for him. As a rookie, the best way to become more knowledgeable is to have a great support system. With veterans like LeBron James on the court and Magic Johnson off the court, Moe is in prime position to learn a lot from the sport’s best.
“Being around all these guys is huge and very valuable for a guy like me who is in my first year and only 21 years old. I’m very young and I’m kinda trying to find my way around. It’s awesome to be around guys like Rondo, LeBron, whoever you wanna name. So it’s very valuable for me and I’m very grateful for that too.”
While he starts taking jump shots on the glass court sitting atop the Jordan store, Wagner shares his excitement for the upcoming season. Instead of letting the pressure and expectations of the media and fans weigh him down, Wagner uses it as fuel to motivate him to fly over the expectations and bring a championship back to Los Angeles.
Making it to the NBA isn’t the end goal. Wagner isn’t done dreaming yet.
“Honestly, I wanna see how it is when you actually win. I wanna see what the buzz is like in the city when you actually have success. I think they gonna be even crazier when we win, so I can’t wait for that.”
With the season finally underway, it’s finally time to see the young German basketball player fly to greater heights and become the superstar he’s been dreaming about since he was a young kid in Berlin.