Even as he celebrated last February’s opening of Flight 23, the Jordan Brand’s first retail store in New York City, JB president Larry Miller couldn’t resist looking ahead — specifically, at All-Star Weekend 2015.
“We’re going to blow the city up,” Miller said with a grin. “Be ready.”
A year later, Miller and his team have made good on his vow in a major way. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of MJ’s first sneaker — and first All-Star Game, for that matter — the Jordan Brand has set up a variety of outposts across New York City that are honestly like nothing you’ve seen before. The best part? They’re completely open to the public.
“I was talking to my guys about this earlier,” Miller told Dime on Thursday. “Every year at All-Star, we set a bar, and then the next year we try to exceed that bar, and I think we did that. We’re always going to try to push for more and more.”
Right across the street from Madison Square Garden, the Jordan All-Star Experience at Pearl Pavilion is an absolute must-see for any fan of MJ or basketball history. And with Barclays Center splitting All-Star hosting duties with MSG, the 166 Flatbush pop-up shop has plenty of incredible memorabilia on display, such as pieces of the floor from Chicago Stadium. The unquestioned highlight, however, is an on-site laser customization center.
Dime received an advance tour of Pearl Pavilion on Thursday, beginning with a Q&A with Jordan VP Howard “H” White and designer extraordinaire Tinker Hatfield, who discussed MJ’s iconic sneakers and moments while elaborating on what the brand means to them.
“If you give it everything you’ve got, you never know what’s possible,” White said. “And he gave it everything he had. And thus, all that we could be went into this, and we gave it everything we had. So it takes on a little piece of all of us.”
Their work has paid off: Take our word for it that Pearl Pavilion is worth the trip if you’re in town for All-Star Weekend or otherwise. While we were there, even Carmelo Anthony came through to get a closer look.
Set aside plenty of time for the Hall of Greatness, which chronicles Jordan’s history with unbelievable artifacts like signed and game-worn sneakers and uniforms from the various high points of his life. I took particular interest in the displays for MJ’s baseball career and his famous 63-point game against the Celtics. There is also a room dedicated to legendary photographer Walter Iooss’ Jordan shots.
Pearl Pavilion also features a variety of interactive challenges, where you can test out the latest in Jordan performance footwear. The coolest by far is the “Last Shot,” an LED enhanced court where you can attempt some of MJ’s most famous shots, or try something new. The virtual crowd actually reacts a certain way depending on whether your shot goes in. I can’t possibly do this justice in words, but hopefully this video helps.
Of course, Pearl Pavilion — like 166 Flatbush, Flight 23 and Nike NYC — will have all the latest and greatest Jordan releases for All-Star Weekend. The Brand has you covered at Jordan.com/ASWNYC with info on every scheduled product release and interactive activity at all of Jordan’s ASG locales.
Dime received a sneak preview of this year’s All-Star sneaker releases at Flight 23 on Monday, most notably the “Laser Pack,” which commemorates the 10-year anniversary of the Air Jordan XX with new versions of the Air Jordan 1, IV and XX. All three sneakers continue Jordan’s pearl-colored ASG motif, adding in reflective details, icy soles and XX-style laser-etched uppers.
The return of the XX is a particularly welcome sight. Created by Hatfield and released in 2005, the sneaker featured MJ opening up like never before, resulting in a wearable tapestry depicting the high points of his life and career. While most people will gravitate toward the IV, the XX — to us, at least — is the true gem of the trio.
Other All-Star Weekend releases include the buzz worthy “Photo Reel” XX9 — an homage to the famous picture that inspired the Jumpman Logo — and two slick pairs of X’s, the “red Bulls over Broadway” and silver “Lady Liberty.” Two GS retros are also set to release, with a black/red lowtop Air Jordan 1 also planned for Valentine’s Day.
Jordan has also staged a cool interactive scavenger hunt with All-Star collector pins. If you nab the first six pins at Jordan’s four NYC retail shops, the final “RE2PECT” pin awaits at Terminal 23, Anthony’s personalized court on 32nd Street. Consider it an extra bonus for checking out all the cool stuff Jordan has to offer this weekend.
Between All-Star festivities and Fashion Week, there’s a lot going on in New York this weekend – you might have heard something about a certain high-profile rapper releasing a sneaker. But as you can expect during NBA All-Star Weekend, the Jordan Brand is at the forefront of basketball culture. And with the Air Jordan XXX on the horizon, we can only wonder what they have in store for us next.
“I absolutely believed that when we started this that H, myself, Phil Knight and others had a vision for where this brand could go,” Miller said. “And we haven’t achieved that vision yet. I think there’s still more to go. So I could absolutely see [JB’s current success], but we have a long ways to go from here.”