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ESPN Inside The Mind of John John Florence

ESPN Inside The Mind of John John Florence

With his eyes on an ASP World Title and longtime mentor Kelly Slater in his sights, ESPN The Magazine caught up with John John Florence to get a feel for where his head is at going into this season. Look for the full interview in the next issue on newsstands this week.

ESPN The Mag: What's up with the name?
John John Florence: My real name is straight John. My mom called me John John after John F. Kennedy Jr., and it stuck. I'm OK with whatever people want to call me, though. Some know me as Two Johns. It's pretty funny.

You've been dubbed a natural, a prodigy. After hearing that you were the "next Kelly Slater," has it been weird surfing against Kelly? Like, "Yo, I'm the next you."
[Laughs.] Not at all. I honestly don't think about labels. I'm so amped on surfing that it's all I really think about. And Kelly's cool. He gives me advice about pressure, like when I surf the Pipe event. I don't want to lose at home in the year's last event.

When asked about his late-career motivations, Slater once said: "I'd like to surf a final at Pipe against John John." How does it feel to know you motivate him?
It an awesome feeling, for sure. Last year he kept telling me, "I'm so stoked to be in the Pipe final with you." I was stoked too, but I wanted to win more than anything. To be so close to beating Kelly in the final and not get the win was a big letdown.

Any part of you hope Kelly retires and lets you kids win some?
[Laughs.] I hope he stays around. If you win a world title without Kelly on the tour, it's just not the same. I want to beat him.

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