Konate gave us warning, and Shannon was in the building.
By Shannon Booher
To kick off this year’s baseball season, Jordan Brand introduced the Opening Day Collection, featuring baseball-themed Jordan Retro I shoes inspired by Michael Jordan’s time with the Birmingham Barons. They feature black-and-white colorways with pinstripes, baseball-stitching seams, the letters “BB” for Jordan’s squad, and numbers indicating MJ’s career minor league baseball stats. Sometimes these special-themed shoes turn out a little too gimmicky, but that is not the case here. The end result is hot, as the baseball details are subtle enough to blend in with the classic design of the Jordan I — a great shoe for collectors and wearers, alike.
These shoes debuted Saturday in select retail stores, and the place to get them in L.A. was the Beverly Hills Niketown. In the place to be was newly signed Los Angeles Dodger and Jordan Brand athlete (with Derek Jeter, one of only two Jordan Brand baseball players), Andruw Jones. Jones came to sign autographs for his new legion of fans while simultaneously promoting Jordan Brand. I had the chance to talk with him briefly before the event, and he is definitely a friendly, laidback, and humble type of guy. This is an important season for his career and I asked him about his new situation. He said he is excited about the move to L.A. and is ready to “just play ball.” He also joked about the paparazzi and the obstacles they present when trying to eat a good meal around town. Then we talked about his Jordan Brand affiliation, and he spoke of it in reverent tones. He stated that it is “a great honor” to represent Jordan Brand, and this especially came across as he related playing basketball growing up and idolizing Jordan. Finally, we talked a little basketball, and while he wouldn’t give up any definite team allegiances, he likes watching the greats, specifically mentioning LeBron, Kobe and ‘Melo.
As Jones, dipped head-to-toe in Jordan gear, including the white version of the Opening Days, took his seat for the autograph session, a line of people stretching outside of the store onto Wilshire Blvd. awaited him. It was the day of a much-hyped Dodgers/Red Sox exhibition game to be held at the L.A. Coliseum, and there was a good turn out of both sneaker heads looking for the shoes and Dodgers fans in it for the autographs. The collectors of the group made themselves conspicuous by copping both colorways, while the Dodgers fans revealed themselves with their baseballs, bats and other paraphernalia ready to be signed. I always find sports-related events in L.A. interesting, as they are one sure way to bring together the city’s “Crash”-ed multi-ethnic population, and all walks of life represented on Saturday. Supposedly even Bow Wow made an appearance, but I somehow missed it – he must have just blended in with the rest of the kids there! Andruw Jones made sure every fan – including former Lil’s — left happy, and throughout the season they will most likely reciprocate that, as Los Angeles sports fans love their Dodgers. Chalk up another success story for the Jordan Brand.