On and Off the Court With Rui Hachimura
The rising NBA star talks personal style, vibing to afrobeat and telling his story through Jordans.
At 23 years old, Rui Hachimura is an icon in his native Japan, a position cemented during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics where he served as Japan’s flag bearer, representing his home country on the international stage for the first time. Today, the forward’s influence extends beyond the Washington Wizards and sports, touching sneakers, fashion and culture worldwide. The former in particular has become a focal point for Hachimura’s growing interest in self-expression, as this year he premiered his first Air Jordan Retro collaboration to widespread acclaim.
The sneaker represents something of a full-circle moment for Rui. Growing up in Toyama, Japan, Rui idolized Michael Jordan’s game, competitive spirit and legacy. Flash-forward to the present day and the first Japan-born player ever drafted into the NBA ranks is now the face of his idol’s namesake brand.
Fresh off his return to the hardwood, we caught up with Rui to learn about his Olympic experience, the music he’s listening to right now and the story behind his AJ8.
You were honored as Japan's flag bearer during the opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. What was that experience like?
It was amazing and an honor to do that for my home country. It’s hard to even describe how I felt when I was there. Unfortunately we didn't have fans present because of COVID, [but] to be in that position, holding the flag, being at the front of my team and all the Olympians representing Japan in Tokyo was amazing.
In the past, you’ve mentioned some of your favorite artists are Drake and Young Thug. What are you listening to right now?
Lately, I’ve really gotten into afrobeat. That's what I'm into right now, artists like Burna Boy and Dave. I still listen to Drake, but afrobeat is just a good vibe. Whether I’m walking out for pregame, or I’m at home and just want to chill, I put afrobeats on and vibe.
For sure. Especially when I got drafted into the league, seeing Russell Westbrook and his style—he’s one of the best guys in the league for fashion. This year we have Kyle Kuzma and he's very unique too. It’s fun and feels good to have a nice outfit on. It's definitely about confidence and comfort.
What's your favorite part of being on team Jordan Brand?
You've mentioned a lot of the inspiration behind your Jordan Brand Player Exclusives incorporates your upbringing and Japanese-Beninese heritage. What are some of the colorway inspirations for this season?
The 'Black Samurai' edition with a black midsole and gold and red accents is inspired by my Japanese culture. I’ll be wearing a lot of different colorways throughout the season, each telling a different side of my story.
How did your own Jordan 8 Retro colorway come about? What inspired the design?
It was a collaborative effort with the Jordan Brand design team. The light brown suede gives it an aged look, with red accents representing my Japanese side and a Black Samurai logo on the iconic AJ8 chenille patch on the tongue. My name is Hachi, which means “8,” so it’s special to have my own. It's a dream come true, you know?