Why Jordans Are A Time Machine for My Feet

If you grew up during Michael Jordan’s prime, then you’ll inherently understand this. If not, you may not.

I recently got a new pair of Jordans. Like, yesterday. My first new pair in a while. The second I opened the box I felt like I was  back in 6th grade. Or 8th. Or whatever the years were where having a pair of Jordans meant something… And I’m not talking about status or anything like that. I actually only owned one pair of Jordans as a kid. I believe it was the Jordan III or maybe II. After that the prices went bonkers and there was no way my parents were going to spend $100 on a pair of shoes for a pair of feet in the middle of a growth spurt… Or at least that was what I heard and understood to make sense.

Didn’t stop me from heading to Foot Locker or wherever to check out the new ones each year when they came out. This was during the Like Mike Gatorade song era-version of Jordan. The dangling chain and tongue out era of Jordan. The Team USA era of Jordan. Basically, this was the Michael Jordan Apex and I was the prime age to be completely and totally sucked in.

Forget that I couldn’t jump and largely sucked at hoops anywhere other than my own driveway. None of that mattered.

When you tried on a new pair of Jordans, if only for a brief moment, anything on earth seemed possible.

You’d think: Maybe I could make the NBA? After all, MJ got cut from his high school team once. And his dad isn’t really that tall… And maybe if I drink enough Gatorade and take enough practice shots and work on my fadeaway I, too, will be the greatest basketball player who ever lived. Or maybe the greatest something else?

That feeling of endless possibility that MJ inspired is probably the reason that everyone in my age group who understands what I’m writing has never, will never, truly let go of what Jordan (or at least the idea of Jordan) meant to us as kids.

You grow up. You learn your height will top out around 6′. You learn your jump shot will still largely suck and that your best sport isn’t hoops and even if it is, there’s a 99.9% chance you won’t play in the NBA. Then you get older and learn that basketball players are just guys good at sports while you’re good at other stuff. You attack your own dreams and have your own kids and it’s all good that you never became Jordan because there’s only one Jordan and that’s why he is who he is…

…It’s been over 25 years since I truly believed that wearing a certain pair of shoes could affect anything meaningful in my life or hold any real significance…



Damn, if it still doesn’t feel good to get a new pair…

If you like this, you’ll enjoy my column that was mentioned in the Best American Sportswriting anthology on me, my brother and my dad playing driveway hoops: THE NIGHT THE LEGEND OF THE DRIVEWAY WAS BORN.

And you’ll also like my newsletter HERE.

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