We recently had the chance to invite Dutch basketball player Jito Kok to our Head Office to shoot some hoops and have a little chat. Jito (24) currently plays for CBC Valladolid and the Dutch National team, but is dreaming of the NBA. We got him to talk about all things basketball – and sneakers, of course!
Let’s start with a direct question: who's your favourite basketball player?
LeBron James is the best, but he is not my favourite player. My favourite is DeAndre Jordan. He is a freak athlete and he plays a very exciting type of basketball – he is a very entertaining player to watch.
And what club do you think is going to win the play-offs?
I have two answers: the team I think is going to win is the Warriors, because they have star power [elite players, ed.]. But I want the Cavaliers to win because I want l LeBron James to have his legacy.
How do you imagine your future in basketball? Would you like to play in the USA?
Every basketball player wants to play in the NBA! I think I have the physical attributes to get in the NBA but it’s a tough competition. My goal is to reach my “ceiling”, as my coach says, to be as good as I can. It’s a very interesting journey.
When did you start playing basketball?
I was 7, so 17 years ago. I got into it because my mom and dad played it. My mom is 54 and she actually played until recently.
And what made you love basketball so much?
It was easy for me [laughs]. Because I am tall. My mom is 178 cm tall, and my dad is 194 cm, so it runs in the family. Also, when comparing it to other sports, it’s so much faster-paced: soccer is very boring in comparison. I liked that. And it’s fun to watch.
How did you end up playing in Spain?
It was quite a journey. I started playing in my hometown in the Netherlands, then went to a bigger team, then went to basket academy in Spain when 18. When I was in college I realized basketball could be my career. So I started playing professionally in Greece and Estonia, and then was invited to play in Spain.
How is life in Spain?
Valladolid is cool, I like the laidback Mediterranean lifestyle. Life is good! But I must say it is slightly colder than I expected. People are nice, they are very into sports and are great supporters.
What is the thing you miss the most about the Netherlands?
Mostly the people I know, since I lived there for most of my life.
Tell us about basketball shoes. What’s your relationship with them?
I like them both for playing and in my spare time. It’s important that they are good: playing in bad shoes is terrible. I play with a pair of Jordan 32, which is also the model used by Blake Griffin. He is a super cool guy. Also, basketball sneakers define a big part of shoe culture, especially in the USA. The craze started after Jordan created his own brand and now they are a huge fashion trend. Sneaker culture has blown up so much that is part of high fashion now.
How would you describe your fashion style?
I always look like an athlete! Outside the court as well. I always wear dry-fit and sports brands, mostly Nike.
What advice would you give to aspiring basketball players?
Just do what you like. I love playing basketball and I pour myself into it. Try to enjoy it as much as you can, then it’s easy to do it every day, even when you have to wake up early to train.
And finally...What's your favourite sneaker?!
Favourite sneaker….uhmm… Probably the Jordan 11 “Gamma Blue”. They are just really cool. I also love the Air Jordan Retro 12 “The Master”, which I bought at a Foot Locker store in Las Vegas.