?There is no way I?m buying you Jordans. They cost way too much, and I?m not spending my money on those shoes.?
Those were the words of both my parents every time we went school shopping, so I didn?t waste my time begging them for Jordans. Instead, I looked at the shoe of MJ?s sidekick, Scottie Pippen, as a more attainable school sneaker for me. I remember falling in love with the Nike Air More Uptempo because of the enlarged ‘AIR’ on the side, but my parents pointed me into the direction of the Spalding Hakeem shoes, which also featured eye-popping branding on the side. Their words: ?They?re pretty much the same shoes. It?s just one has letters on the side, and one has numbers on the side.? Really?
Obviously, the price difference is the real reason why I wound up with Spalding Hakeems instead of Nike Air More Uptempos (Spalding Hakeems were $35 due to the fact that Hakeem wanted everybody to be able to afford his shoes). I?m a Houston native, so Hakeem Olajuwon was, and still is my favorite player of all time, so I wasn?t too upset. Still, I probably had the worst shoes at school that year.
During elementary school in the late 80s, I wanted nothing more than to be like the cool, high school girls with their painted-on jeans, leg warmers and Reebok High Tops (Reebok Freestyle). They first released in white and black, but soon came out in red, teal and other brightly-colored versions. I wasn’t picky because an all-white pair would have suited me just fine. Relentless begging did no good, and the closest thing I got to my prized Freestyles was the Reebok Princess in all white and two sizes too big (they didn’t come in grade school sizes where I lived). Luckily wearing thick, double socks was in style, and we were able to find some insoles to place inside so that I didn’t trip TOO badly. Looking back, I still agree with my pre-teen self that these shoes really weren’t very cool, and I haven’t been able to rock a Reebok ever since.