For the past five years, the skill set and hooping abilities of Jeff Teague have been overlooked. For five years, he’s been disregarded as the quality baller that he his. Five years he’s been left out of the elite point guard conversation all together. This year—year six—all that has finally changed. The fact of the matter is, Teague (averaging 17.0 points and 7.5 assists per game) has been an intricate part of the incredible run that the Atlanta Hawks have been experiencing as of late—an unexpected journey that has the squad sitting atop the Eastern Conference standings, and only behind Golden State for the best overall record midway through the NBA season. As a result, for the fist time in his career, Teague was selected to play in the All-Star Game in New York City over, where he was joined by fellow Hawks teammates Al Horford, Kyle Korver, and Paul Millsap. It’s a commendable feat for a 26-year-old baller who is just now scratching the surface of his full potential.
We got a chance to sit down with Teague a few hours prior to Sunday’s star-studded showdown to pick his brain on everything from his very first All-Star experience to his well-documented sneaker obsession to his unexpected pregame rituals (some of which include fried chicken). Oh, and he even shared his thoughts on Drake’s new album and Kanye’s new kicks.
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To kick it off, what’s your first All-Star experience been like? Are you enjoying NYC?
Jeff Teague: New York’s been fun; it’s really cold [laughs]. Living in the south is very different, but I’m definitely enjoying it.
In an interview last year, you mentioned that getting selected to the All-Star Game isn’t a big deal, and that you’re more worried about getting better each year and your team winning…has that perception changed now that you’re here today?
JT: I’m enjoying it, but I’m here because my team is playing well, so that’s really what matters, man—we’re playing really good, at a high level, and we have multiple guys here at the All-Star Game, so that’s always a good thing.
There are obvious a lot of variables that go into the type of successful season that the Atlanta Hawks are having this year, but if there’s on specific thing that you can attribute the success to, what is it?
JT: Probably our team chemistry. We just really like each other and enjoy playing with each other.
And is that something that’s carried over from last year’s playoffs?
JT: Yeah, definitely. Last year was the start of it for us, and this year it’s carried over.
Who would you say is the most underrated player on the squad?
JT: Probably DeMarre Carroll.
JT: He’s just an X-factor man. He makes all the big plays for us, and he guards the best player every night—he deserves a lot of recognition for that.
You were obviously with Nike for a while, and now you’re with adidas—how’s that transition been like?
JT: It’s been great, man; they [adidas] treat you like family. You get to talk to the people and they come to make sure that you’re okay—make sure you’re comfortable on the court. And, off the court, they lace you with plenty of gear.
Like the Yeezys you have on right now? How do you feel about those?
JT: Oh man, these are hot. These are one of the dopest shoes I ever got from adidas.
There are always crazy numbers (in the thousands) getting thrown around as far as the size of your sneaker collection—where did that obsession being?
JT: Honestly, in college. My friends and I used to get a new pair of sneakers every time, and Chris Paul, at the time, I used to go over there and raid his house. He had a lot of shoes and I used to just take them. And then, once you get into the NBA, you have a deal, and you just start buying anything. I was buying all types of Nikes, and then that carried over when I signed on with adidas.
Is there something about adidas that fits your personal aesthetic and playing style?
JT: They do it all for comfort. I’m a fast player. For a quick player like me, it’s all about the comfort.
Currently, what are you favorite sneakers to hoop in?
JT: Definitely the Boost. I’ve been wearing those lately—the best shoes that I’ve played in ever in my career. I’ll probably continue to wear those.
Any word from adidas on a PE or signature model?
JT: Naw, not yet man, still gotta keep grindin’ [smirks]. I’m gonna hoop in the Yeezys one time though—I’ll probably pull ‘em out. It won’t be tonight, but probably the first game after the break.
We’ll definitely keep an eye out for that. So off the court, what’s your go-to shoe?
JT: I like all-white shelltoes, and I like red and white shelltoes. I wear them all the time.
Do you have any crazy pregame rituals to get you into the zone?
JT: I honestly do something different every game. One day I might eat some chicken tenders [laughs]. I don’t know man, I just got bad habits all across the board—probably shouldn’t be eating fried chicken before the game.
Are you a big music guy?
JT: Yeah, I like a little bit of everybody. I like Future, Drake…
Your thoughts on Drake’s new mixtape?
JT: Yeah, I didn’t like that too much…I like Big Sean—I like all the adidas guys really.
JT: Yup, definitely Yeezy.
Okay, so style and fashion have been huge in the NBA in recent years. Your thoughts on that?
JT: I think it’s good for the league. People are putting on their own style and bringing their own swag to the table.
Who’s the best-dressed player in the league?
JT: Best dressed? Probably myself—I get fly! But then again everybody gets fly.
JT: Westbrook—I wouldn’t say he’s a bad dresser; he just has his own sense of style. It’s not bad—it’s just out there. Not everybody can pull it off. You gotta be a confident dresser to do what he does.
Follow Gurvinder on Twitter at @gurvindersg