Words by Anthony D. Pratt
The ‘Chicago’ Air Jordan 2 Low released a few weekends ago, as true to the original as any Jordan 2 since 1994. Underappreciated and often derided, the second Air Jordan signature model has experienced a renaissance of sorts in recent years, thanks to collaborations with noted tastemaker Don C. For me, though, the model has long occupied hallowed space and these reasons I’ll tell you why…
Spring 1995. Cochrane Middle School in Charlotte, North Carolina. I sat at a table with friends in the library. Giggling nearby interrupted the silence. I looked up and saw Keya Jones laughing with her homegirls, looking toward me. Some kid asked Keya what was so funny. Ol’ girl pointed at my shoes and said, ”He got on jeepers!” Everyone laughed. She basically said I had on the wack shit. Bruh. Here I was, wearing my low-top Jordan 2s thinking I’m fresh but now getting clowned in front of the homies. Why I got the shoes in the first place deserves background.
Growing up, I was a Michael Jordan stan. We’d have book fairs at school, and my money was reserved for every Jordan biography I could find. Maybe 1990 or ’91, in one book I noticed a pic of Mike suspended in air, doing what looked like some kind of dance pose. He had a basketball in his right hand, tucked under his chin. His left arm spread out with both legs flaring, eyes focused on the rim. I studied the pic. Looked down at his shoes and thought “What the fuck are THOSE?”
Like Mike, the shoes were otherworldly. Void of Swoosh and Jumpman, they were like nothing I’d ever seen. My older brother had 1s. The 3s were familiar because my stepbrother had the Jordan/Mars poster in his bedroom. All other Jordans to that point I’d been cognizant of. The shoes in this photo weren’t familiar.
I took the book home and showed my brother. “Yo, what are these?” He was a little more familiar with them than me and told me “Oh, those never came out.” I had no way to know he was incorrect, but I received that information as “no one I know has these shoes.” It was enough for the shoes to become holy grail. All I knew was, somehow I had to have them if for no other reason than niggas ain’t even up on these.
After Mike’s retirement in 1993, Nike decided to re-release older Air Jordan models. No one was happier than me. However, the idea of buying an “old” shoe while the new joints sat on the shelf beside them wasn’t en vogue. I would save my birthday and Christmas money to help buy sneakers I wanted. My parents set a limit on how much they were willing to spend and anything more than that was on me. Jordans 1 through 3 re-released summer 1994 and I had my shot at obtaining my holy grails. But at 12 years old, I couldn’t convince myself that months of saving should go toward buying shoes that weren’t “cool.”