by Ryan Jones / @thefarmerjones

Michael Jordan had a problem with these shoes. This was six years ago. I was in Chicago for the interview that would run in SLAM 100, and you can imagine the pressure I felt—not about the interview itself, but about what to wear.

Unwilling to wear Jordans so I didn’t look like another pilgrim bowing before the shrine, I wore these: Seamless Air Force 1s. I was going for sharp but understated, fresh but not flashy. I felt they achieved the desired effect.

What did I know? I sat down in a chair across from Michael for what would be a 13-minute interview. We shook hands. He looked down at my shoes. And you know what he said?

“You guys,” he said. “You guys steal.” He explained that “we”—by which I believe he meant Jordan Brand, which is of course part of Nike—had designed a pair of shoes that were similar, and that someone at Nike proper (somehow my guilt seemed implicit) had stolen this idea and rushed them through production so that I could wear them today. It was a memorable encounter, making these memorable shoes.

Now I wear them to mow my lawn.

I moved to Pennsylvania in ’07, and while I’m lucky to stay connected to SLAM, I knew I was leaving certain things behind. Sacrificing these 1s to the demands of home ownership was part of that. My new life couldn’t justify scrubbing my kicks with a toothbrush after every wear; it couldn’t justify sneakers very much at all, except on weekends, and then usually to chase my kids or cut my grass. Priorities, man. I don’t think Mike would have a problem with that.