We need your handprint, they tell him, right up at the top of the backboard.
Andrew Wiggins dips his hand in the paint and does what they tell him. He climbs to the top of the ladder amid a gym packed with admiring fans. It’s here he leaves his print, high up on the glass backboard, well above the rim, a place of rare air only the luckiest of us ever get to experience.
“This is the highlight of my year,” Wiggins had said earlier, and though this 21-year-old will accomplish many things throughout 2016–like play in the Rising Stars Challenge in his own home city during NBA All-Star Weekend and average over 20 points per game as an NBA sophomore–that claim still makes sense.
That’s because this basket at the Dufferin Clark Community Centre in Vaughan, Canada, this gym, is where the legend of Andrew Wiggins first began.
Before the Rookie of the Year award, before the hype and the expectations, Wiggins was a skinny teenager still used to watching his older brothers from the sidelines when, one day, playing against an American team, Wiggins went up for a two-handed dunk and felt something fall into his hair.
“I was just shocked I had done it,” he remembers, “shocked that I did. I was looking around like, ‘I really did this.’ I didn’t think I dunked it that hard.”
Andrew Wiggins, as a ninth-grader, had broken his first backboard.
It marked a seminal moment in the career of Andrew Wiggins, one that’s seen him advance to the cusp of superstardom. You can see his impact through the way the young basketball fans in his hometown embrace him. He’s their Harden. He’s their Lillard.
This recognition of style, on top of his ability to crush opponents through a combination of incredible athleticism and a burgeoning skill-set, is why Champs Sports tabbed Wiggins for their “Keeper of Game” adidas Originals campaign during the spring season. For style enthusiasts all over the country, Wiggins is the perfect model, a cat that doesn’t boast or brag. It’s effortless for him.
Throughout the “Keeper of Game” campaign, Champs Sports will feature Wiggins in a number of short videos. In an atmosphere showcasing the swagger guru as something more than just a basketball player, Wiggins will push his followers to up their game with the classic adidas Superstar or the Stan Smith, one of the most popular silhouettes in sneaker culture right now.
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Wiggins plays the part, too. As part of the aforementioned refurbishing celebration during All-Star Weekend at his old gym, he enters the building to the “We Made It” freestyle from Drake and Soulja Boy while wearing gold across his neck and ears and a black fit complete with the new adidas Cross Up fleece hoodie.
Think about where Wiggins started–a younger brother waiting his turn in a small community gym, creating memories, creating legacies, and doing it all with an air of mystery as a Canadian in an American game. But when you hear stories like I heard during NBA All-Star Weekend and realize they aren’t urban legends but actually happened, it makes perfect sense why Wiggins has become a keeper of his domain.
To his credit, the second-year pro already understands the impact he can make as a “Keeper of Game” to every kid out there dreaming of breaking backboards and styling on his friends.
“I think everyone has a choice,” Wiggins said during All-Star Weekend about being a role model. “You have free will. Some people take it. Some people don’t want it. Everyone’s different.”
Andrew Wiggins, though, certainly wants it.
Stay tuned to Champs Sports on YouTube for more from the Andrew Wiggins “Master of Game” campaign.