Gentry Humphrey Talks Leaving Jordan Brand, New Role, and More

September 20, 2011 | 34

Everyone in the sneaker community is very familiar with the name Gentry Humphrey, especially Jordan heads. In 2010, TSG caught up with Gentry, so likewise, in 2011 we decided to catch up with him again. It’s amazing how things can change in a year. In this interview with G-Money, he speaks on leaving Jordan Brand (Yes, you read right), his new role with Nike Sportswear, and much more. We could spill all the beans, but if you want to know the full scoop, you’ll have to read the interview below.

It’s been a year since our last interview, how have you been?

GH: Really good! Loving life and thankful for everything I’ve been blessed with!

We understand that your role and position has changed, what’s your new title?

GH: It’s a long one…I’m the Product Creation Footwear Lead for NSW (which is Nike Sportswear) Basketball and American Football. Basically I’m responsible for bringing lifestyle product to our consumer that lives in the 2 sports. We know that the consumer can compete, train and express himself within his everyday life. Our team will assist him with that expression through a lifestyle lens.

That’s interesting, I don’t think anyone could ever imagine you not being part of Brand Jordan. How did it feel when you learned you would be leaving?

GH: It was “Bitter Sweet”. Jordan has been a HUGE part of my life for the last 20+ years. I love everything about MJ and how the “Jordan Family” (What you would call the Jordan Brand) strives to make an impact on consumer’s lives. All of the creativity, insights and emotional energy that was spent, made me a better individual – personally and professionally. Leaving Jordan was “Crazy Tuff”! However, the Brand is transitioning and when the VP of Nike Basketball and the Prez of Nike “call your number”, you gotta be ready to play. When they asked me to take on the role, I had to admit that it was a pretty sweet deal! It gives me a chance to get back to what I LOVE and that’s leading a team in creating compelling product for some of the best consumers in the world. And you know…when it comes to the Nike Vault of product, that’s a pretty powerful arsenal.

You’ve been with JB since 1997/1998, so now that you’re gone how do you feel?

GH: Actually,’97 & ’98 was when the brand was an official sub-brand of Nike but I had the pleasure of working on the Jordan business when it was a part of Nike Basketball. (Ironically, some of the crazy Nike Bball product from back then, are a part of my new responsibilities.) In the beginning, Jordan was a tight crew that had a vision beyond what most people thought it could ever be. The evolution of moving from a $160M business to $1B +, is pretty special. It was and is…a great chapter in my life. The next chapter of my career novel is definitely off to an exciting start.

Surely you have a bunch of good memories from working with Brand Jordan, what would you say is your absolute best memory?

GH: Wow…there are so many I’m not sure I can say there’s only one. Every day that new samples would come in, it felt like Christmas for me (some were sweet gifts that would grace the marketplace and others were definitely “bags of coal”). Every meeting with “Masterminds” like MJ and Tinker, I was able to learn how to think outside the box. When it comes to pure fun…I love playing golf and it’s pretty sweet playing in a group when you’re with MJ and Tiger. I love sports and being able to share a stage with MJ, Tiger, Ali, Lance and so many others, well… it’s a sports fanatic’s dream! Sorry…couldn’t just give you one. I could go on and on…

Let’s talk more in-depth about your new responsibility with Nike. What exactly will you be doing with Nike Sportswear Basketball and on the NFL end?

GH: Besides the info I spoke of earlier, I’ll assist in bringing an integrated approach to the performance and lifestyle worlds of each sport through footwear and apparel. But what I’m most excited about…is trying to bring new product concepts that are relevant to the consumer and the culture that surrounds these two sports.

You are used to being under pressure, but do you feel any pressure with your new role?

GH: Oh yeah! The biggest athletic shoe in the entire industry (the Air Force 1) is now a part of my mix. There are an entire list of pressure points but all I can do is gather info from the best sources possible and make the best decisions possible. Every day is a grind but pressure is ultimately what you allow it to be. I try to make the best decisions possible and not let the pressure take me out of my focus.

What’s your thoughts on the NBA lockout, especially regarding Nike Sportswear Basketball?

GH: I’m worried about the lockout as a fan of the game. I LOVE basketball at all levels and after the great season that the NBA had, it’d be a shame to not have some of the best athletes in the world, do their thang! On the business tip, I’m optimistic on the lockout’s effect on the U.S. but a little worried about the effect when it comes to countries like China. In China, they love the NBA and they follow the players Big Time! I have some very specific thoughts about the entire situation but rather than bore everyone with the details I’ll just say we still have the college game and it’s pretty special as well.

In a year or two where would you like to see Nike Sportswear Basketball and the NFL division?

GH: Well… because the product creation process is a 12-18month process, it’s difficult to do everything that I might like to institute. However, I’m hoping that we will create excitement with products and stories that will allow all of the “sneaker lovers”to go crazy!

Without spilling all the beans, what type of exciting projects can we expect to see?

GH: Cool remix projects. Fresh old school projects. New collabs and projects that have excitement from our high end products to the low end. Unfortunately I can’t mention everything but I think we’ll introduce a few things that people will say “Damn…”! As we get closer to the drops, maybe we can have another conversation where I can be more specific.

The 30th Anniversary of the Air Force 1 is next year. Any special launches on the 2012 AF1 menu?

GH: Oh yeah the team had been working really hard to bring an assortment that is special. I’ll just say that we learned a lot from the 25th Anniversary and we’ll create excitement in several different ways. To top it off, we’ve got bigger plans in 2013.

Is there any thing else you want to say or share with our readers?

GH: I’d like to say “thanks” to you, TSG and several of your viewers for supporting the brand and my personal efforts from the past. While we try our best to do everything right, it doesn’t always work out that way. However, site’s like this, are special because they allow us to make the best decisions possible. I’m really excited about the Future Vision of NSW Bball and Football and look forward to creating some HYPE around our future efforts. Look for some “gorilla marketing” efforts that I’ll be twittin’ about!

About the Author (Author Profile)

Lord G-Roc from the Great South. Twitter/IG: @GRocSmith
  • John B.

    great interview G! I’m sure he will do very well in his new position…change is good

  • RawSteeze

    Glad he’s gone from Jordan b.
    I hope th near future won’t suck as bad.

  • Sek

    Dont mess up the look on classic shoes like you would do with certain jb products.

  • http://theshoegame.ning.com/profile/jr_lyon JR_LYON

    I’d love to see the Nike Command Force Pump and Air Force 180 High Pump make a return! Thats all I gotta say

  • alexthagr8

    Great interview! I wish G-Money lots of success with the new “Team”. I can’t wait to see what they got lined up for the NFL and NBA.

  • http://www.missomnimedia.com Metatron

    with jordan 8.0s coming down the pipeline, i dont think you’ll be getting your wish anytime soon

  • http://www.hatchmoblog.com hatchmo

    RawSteeze, do you even know what gentry’s position at JB was?

    Great interview G.

  • http://Solecontrolphilly.com FeetHeat

    Great read G-Roc!!! Hopefully we get to see some ish that some of us have been waiting on for awhile. I’m with JR Lyon….Lets get some Command Forces and 180 Pumps!!!

  • http://www.kreativsole.com teelarge

    great interview! Gentry is definitely gonna make noise over at the swoosh.

  • Herb T

    Great interview, can’t wait to see what he brings to Sportswear

  • http://www.franalations.com Franalations

    Nice! I cant wait to see what type of changes he brings to the NSW line.

  • http://www.twitter.com/dj_imperiald IMPERIAL_D

    Nice!!…dude seems like a good man from interviews you have done with him. im sure jb will still ask him for advice and he will still have his hand in it a little bit. but this seems like a major move for him he has an arsenal to choose from now not just jordans.

  • http://www.twitter.com/jayoldpeachtree jaohpe

    Classy interview G… Change can be a very good thing. Best of luck to him…

    JB doing $1B+ ? ALL the retros should be BIN quality then…. That part kind of turned my stomach but I can say quality has gotten better as of late.

  • http://theshoegame.ning.com/profile/bright BRIGHT aka IF YOU HAVE ANYMORE PROBLEMS WITH HOW I KEEP THE BOOKS MY OFFICE HOURS ARE FROM 9 TO 5

    Shout out to Groc for the interview. Good stuff wish that gentry could be alot more specific in regards to giving us hints to what might be releasing but I understand that he probally can’t reveal that information. It’s all goody though.

  • http://soleshock.com JordanGS4

    Great interview as always G. Thanks for bringing another good read. I’m interested to see what new products G Money will bring with his new role.

  • http://corporategotem.comn SneakerDave

    Great read bro!!! keep up the good work!!

  • http://theshoegame.ning.com/profile/4Drumz 4DRUMZ

    The TSG INSIDER!!! I can’t get past thinking Gentry is rocking a Hypercolor polo shirt in the pic!!!

    Dude has a target on him from the AF1 heads… he better come on-point with that HUGE responsibility!

    “Unfortunately I can’t mention everything..” ~ Duuuuude… you mentioned NOTHING! LoL… Gentry should be a politician because he gives a lot of “answer” WITHOUT giving any information! LoL…

  • kvegas

    Great interview G and wishing much success to Gentry in the future and just some small advice NIKE stop tinkering with classics and let them remain that sheesh, AF1 back to true grain leather and simplified c/w and presto! :)

  • DC21

    Dope interview G! Can’t wait to see the new line up!

  • SPINS6136

    This is good news for any Jordan Head. The bastardizing of several classics, the over polution of specific retros and the lack or creativity (several failed Frankenstein designs, terrible new silouhettes and general lack of up to date creations) has halted the JB line. I’m honestly looking forward to the new direction under whomever they chose to replace GH.

  • http://Facebook.com/joebang JoeyBeeSays

    In the next couple of years, I see myself buying a few more NSW products, dope interview G!

  • T.DOG

    HE SUCK! GOOD RID DENS

  • http://www.theshoegame.com ATL_Dunk-Junkie

    Great Interview G-Roc…you better hope he leaves your address with somebody at JB…lol

  • http://www.TheShoeGame.com G-Roc

    Glad everyone enjoyed the interview. Thanks for all the love and support.

    People still blame Gentry to this very day for decisions that get made at JB. Truth is, he has been away from product creation for 3 years. If any people watched our last interview, he told us about his international role with JB.

    http://theshoegame.com/articles/the-gentry-humphrey-interview.html

    http://theshoegame.com/articles/gentry-humphrey-talks-25th-anniversary-jordan-fusions-and-more-part-2.html

    http://theshoegame.com/articles/gentry-humphrey-talks-favorite-sneaker-tinker-hatfield-return-of-nike-air-more.html

  • http://www.tyree-dillihay.blogspot.com R E E

    Great read. And I gotta clap for him.
    Congratulations, Gentry Humphrey.
    I love seeing bruthaz doing it big on the big stage.
    And the Nike Sportswear catalogue offers a much larger canvas to paint on.
    Basically, it sounds like a DREAM JOB.
    I’m really looking forward to the classic reboots and definitely have 2012 and 2013 on my radar.
    We all know ATF would say Air Force 1 never left, but, let’s be completely real,
    This was the strongest year the Air Force 1 had in a while. So I’m looking forward to seeing that momentum continue.

    But, ahem, GENTRY,
    if you’re reading …
    and you want to do a collaboration with an artist and a movement that REALLY connects with the SNEAKER LOVERS, aka SN’EADS… could you HOLLA AT YA BOY?
    Get at G-Roc.
    He knows how to reach me :)

  • Shawty Black aka That’s What She Said

    Great interview, G-roc! I’m always impressed with how you make these contacts and connections with such important people in sneaker culture. Clearly its that they are impressed with your level of professionalism and the power and influence of TSG. Keep up the good work!

    As for Gentry, anyone who paid attention to the last interview knows that not even Gentry was fully satisfied with some of the JB’s products, both recent and earlier. Though he wasn’t involved in the creative process of many of the recent releases, it did seem that he lost (or lacked) the influence to make some important changes there. I think his new role is a new respect and a revisiting of his potential to lead a team of creative “cooks”. Nike SW is a good fit for him and probably will help “save” the rest of his career, as I feel that Jordan Brand is pretty dead when it comes to new ideas and connecting in a meaningful way with new generations. In my opinion, it seems like the JB Titanic was seeking and G-money was fortunate enough to get a life raft.

  • DONPOLO67

    Now next the TSG AF1…..They owe you G you keep 100 with them…..

  • aaron

    Yay! Forces!

  • aka11.5

    ran in to him a while a go in dc sports zone he told me he was moving on to bigger & better things with nike good luck gentry it was nice taking to you coolest cats in the shoe game….g-roc you know what time it is..pennys 4 life…

  • Natalielm

    Nice interview G!

  • http://www.TheShoeGame.com G-Roc

    ^Thanks, Nat.

    @aka11.5 – Yeah, he’s super cool. Looking for to the Penny line in 2012 and 2013. It should be fun.

  • http://www.niketalk.com Mayhem

    there go the chances of having some good football retros(speed turfs come to mind). smfh

  • http://theshoegame.com/ Chevy Boy

    This is a great read, G. OG b-ball heads rejoice; I think we can expect a few overdue retros in the years to come. Gentry, good luck on all your future endeavors bro! I know you already have a few surprises up your sleeve!

  • Marcus Staten

    Gentry is a clown.. he is going to fuck up the foams like he did the J’s.. Sorry sneakerheads only speaking the truth….