Mars Blackmon (Spike Lee) famously told Michael Jordan, "It's gotta be the shoes." That proclamation helped Nike have a massive hit on its hands. One of the many multiple fascinating anecdotes shared during ESPN's "The Last Dance" was that the shoe company projected $3 million in sales of the Air Jordan in the first four years of its deal with MJ. It ended up selling $126 million worth of the shoes in the first year alone.
For me, it's also gotta be the shoes. Not because I'm interested in replicating — at age 52 — the greatest hoops icon of the age, but because I've simply got feet that I don't want in any old shoe.
Sadly, it's not even so much about style anymore, though I don't necessarily want to start wearing footwear that give off a grandfatherly vibe. Shoes nowadays, for me, are more about comfort. As the owner of a longstanding bunion on which I'd like to continue procrastinating surgery as much as possible, I don't need something on my feet that's going to result in me wearing a grimace on my face for each waking hour.
Once upon a time, it didn't matter what I put on my feet. When I was a young kid, up until about the time I finished elementary school, I wore all kinds of shoes that definitely weren't of the name-brand variety. I seem to recall my parents getting my sneakers at such places as Jamesway, Kmart and Woolworth's. By around seventh grade, though, you were — shall we say — noticed if you didn't have a pair of Nike, Adidas, Converse or another top high-end brand on your feet.
So, as I recall, my parents caved. I suppose it's kind of like parents eventually concede on various electronic devices today. I remember having Nike high-top shoes that I absolutely loved during junior high, though I had already established maddeningly mediocre prowess on the basketball court. Later in high school I went through a "preppy" phase during which I almost always wore docksiders, and I also had a pair of Capezios I wore at choir concerts and other occasional special events. Those were super-stylish (as I remember) and super pointy, and I think they hurt even as a teenager. I think I had them for several years and only tossed them because I'd been told they were way out of style (I guess I punished myself a long time for no good reason).
In my early 20s, when I lived in New York City, I had a pair of black steel-toed Doc Martens that meant serious business. It was the age of grunge rock and I had scruffy facial hair, an earring, longish hair and whole-laden jeans to match, among other "alternative" (yet truly mainstream, for the period) accessories. By the late 1990s, after I'd departed the Big Apple, I'd finally come to the conclusion that practical was most important when it came to shoes, and not something trendy or projecting some type of status/look.
That leads me to the present day. For the last few years, my go-to footwear — with the exception of some formal attire events — have been a couple of different pairs of Skechers. They're by no means opulent, they're certainly inexpensive compared to other tennis-type shoes and they're dang comfy. However, they by no means give off any professional kind of vibe, and I've been beginning to think that I should start shopping around for what amounts to a comfortable and good-looking shoe for the workplace, with the realization that I made to fork out a bit more change than I have recently.
Just my luck: I've now got a shoe retailer in the family. My teenage daughter, Grace, just started working last week at Brown's Shoe Fit, and was practically euphoric when she recorded her first sales. She has already told me at length of several shoes that she thinks would be good for me, though I think I can already rule out the $250 pair of Eccos that I was positively smitten with until hearing of the price tag. Maybe Hey Dudes? Perhaps Hokas, or Ons? I'd never even heard of any of this until a couple of days ago, and now it looks I'll be getting a significant education whether I truly want it or not.
Bring it on, Grace. Who knows, maybe my next shoes can be both ultra-cool and comfortable? What would ol' Mars have to say about that?