What Price Air?

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What was the first shoe you “had to have”? That one shoe you begged and pleaded and cried and whined for, whether it was your birthday, Christmas, or you just saw them on the shelf or in the window and said “YYEEEEESSSSSS!!!!” (in my best Marv Albert voice). For most of us, that memory is tattooed right in the front of our brains, and it is a day we will never forget. Here is mine:


November of 1986, and I am still a young one. School has started and is in full almost-Christmas break-get me out of here mode. Except the NBA season has just started, and a gold-chain-wearing, bust your piehole, taking-over-and-don’t-care-who-likes-it Michael Jordan is already breaking defenders off like Walking Dead zombie arms. Except, in game 3, he broke his own self and would be out for almost the entire season (Krause be dusted). Naturally, he did this in the Air Jordan I, the shoe I HAD TO HAVE. Why? Well, for starters, he was already Michael Freaking Jordan. For another, look at the shoe. To this day, still the definition of cool, especially the two original colorways (white/red/black and black/red).

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Here is the deal: Thanksgiving Sale – Black Friday 1986 (before the nutjob Black Fridays we get now). A local spot naked Sneaky Feet (we always called it Stinky Feet because most of their shoes were NOT on the must have list) had a buy one, get one half off. Mom and Pop gathered me and little bro up and headed down to purchase some decidedly uncool sneaks, but they were doing their best so no complaints. Lo and behold, around the corner from the regular shoes, a whole aisle of the greatest shoe on Earth – Air Jordan I’s in all sizes. Adults sizes were $65, kids were $40. Well, mom and pop were NOT paying $65 for me a pair of shoes (I was a 6.5 – adult). Out of luck. Enter fit-throwing Bryan. Not my proudest moment, but what is a kid to do. I tried on that 6.5, and it was perfect, and perfectly still out of price range. So, and here is where I like to think I was ahead of my time, I tried on a 6. $40. And they fit, sort of. No matter, I said they felt good and fit perfect – I would have cut my big toe off at that point to get those kicks. Bam. Done – a pair of black/reds for little bro in a 5.5 and the lovely white/red/black for me. I swear I slept in them for a week. Got to school (all white at the time) and I got looks from the Kaepa (look it up) wearing crowd like I had an alien sitting on my head, and no care was given.


I only got to wear them for about three months until my feet grew out of them and I grabbed some Reebok 4600’s, but for those three months I WAS Mike. I flossed like a boss and in my mind there was none smoother. I ended up wearing those J’s to skate in (like my other heroes, the Bones Brigade) and wore the front toepiece completely through, but that is what we did – we WORE our shoes.


I would give most of my collection for a pair of original quality, original construction Air Jordan I’s today. Something about that color combination and the attitude they came with that said you were a bad man. I am older now and don’t have near as much to prove, but if I had those on feet, I’d dunk on all y’all (while dreaming and wearing them to bed).



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