Oct 23, 2020 | SPORTS | By Kevin Peterson | Illustration by Xixi Qin
You may have seen “Sneakerheads” show up on the front page of Netflix recently. Released at the end of last month, the new Netflix series is a comedy that exhibits the craziness of the sneaker game and gives the viewer a look into sneaker culture. The main character of “Sneakerheads,” Devin, is a married man with kids who has a past as an avid sneaker enthusiast. The show follows him as he is pulled back into the sneaker game by his friends. As Devin rejoins the sneaker scene, “Sneakerheads” follows him and his friends on their quest to flip rare sneakers and find the elusive “Jordan Zeros.”
Jay Longino ’96, a Colorado College men’s basketball alum, created the show, inspired by many of his own experiences with the sneaker game. After graduating from CC in 1996 with a degree in Economics, Longino had no idea that he would end up in the film industry. He went on to play in the NBA Summer Pro League in Long Beach, Calif. and then started playing professionally in Mexico before he ended up in Los Angeles, where he discovered screenwriting.
Longino stopped playing basketball professionally, but he continued to play pick-up regularly at the Hollywood YMCA. There, he met Inny Clemons, one of the other executive producers for the series. Clemons kept telling Longino that he should write a show about sneakers, and the idea had always been in the back of Longino’s head.
“I was in Hong Kong in 2015 writing a movie for Jackie Chan called ‘Skiptrace,’” Longino said. “I went over there to visit the set and saw a place there called Sneaker Street which is world famous. When I saw that I was like, man, this thing is so global, and the culture is exploding. That was when I decided that I needed to figure out what this show is. That’s why in episode five, the characters go to Hong Kong, as a sort of homage to the trip I had taken there.”
Longino is a sneakerhead himself, with a collection of around 150 pairs. One pair in particular stands out for Longino. While working for the Atlanta Hawks, he met Michael Jordan, who gave Longino his game-worn 1989 White Cement Jordan 4s.
The six-episode series “Sneakerheads” has been a huge success so far, but it is not Longino’s first mark on the film industry. He also wrote the screenplay for “Uncle Drew,” where he used the character from 2012 Pepsi videos to create a full-length film as a sort of love letter to basketball. After a successful career as a player at CC, Longino has continued to stay connected to the game in other ways, sharing his love for basketball through his screenwriting.