That said, so long as you don’t dwell on it too long, an occasional dose of nostalgia isn’t such a bad thing, simultaneously reminding us of good times and demonstrating to us how far we’ve come. Air Jordan retros are a perfect example: When you strap on a pair that you had as a kid, it has the ability to bring you back to a simpler time when you would swear a new pair of sneakers made you run faster and jump higher than before.
Likewise, I’ve always loved that unique excitement when you get a new pair and can’t wait to take them for a test drive. The first Vince Carter signature Shox model sticks out in my mind: Enamored by the early-2000’s Roswell Rayguns commercials, I wedged my foot into the snug VC1’s and promptly hit the courts, pleasantly surprised when after a half hour of breaking them in with solitary jump shots, they started to fit like a glove.
The dynamic of basketball sneakers has changed significantly since I was in middle school, when I’d think nothing of wearing a pair of Jordans in a touch football game. As the ever-polarizing Matt Powell of Sports One Source would tell you, the vast majority of sneakers aren’t actually used for their intended purpose, relegated instead for casual wear, Instagram flaunting and eBay price gouging.
As for me, more than a decade after college, my days of playing 3-4 times a week are long gone, replaced by my daily commute, the convenience of running and a preference for spending time at home with my family. Admittedly, the majority of my sneakers don’t come within a mile of the blacktop; at times, I have to remind myself to put certain models on my feet at all, lest I find myself curating a niche museum of sorts in my basement.
When I was invited recently to wear-test the Air Jordan XX9, which releases to retail on Sept. 6, I couldn’t wait to see if it lived up to the advance billing from its gala unveiling back in April. I also saw it as a golden opportunity to recapture that first-wear feeling. Inspired, I headed that afternoon to a court in my neighborhood to put some shots up. I was emboldened — and a little relieved — when a reasonable number of jumpers rattled home.
As always, the Jordan Brand’s attention to detail was not restricted to its sneakers. The media wear test was held a stone’s throw from Madison Square Garden at swanky Terminal 23; the court is an ornate converted ballroom which once saw Frank Sinatra and Duke Ellington grace the stage, but now plays host to youth basketball programs and Jordan Brand events. Adding to the mystique, Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Lance Stephenson had played pickup at Terminal 23 mere hours before the XX9 open run. (Kind of a tough act to follow.)