Originally published in KICKS 7, 2004…

Sneaker Pimp: Things done changed. This is our seventh KICKS issue, and I honestly believe it’s the most shoe-centric one we’ve done. Kind of silly, considering it’s called KICKS and all. But in years past we’ve focused too much on the NBA thing and too little on the shoe side. No more. Hopefully y’all will agree that we’re headed in the right direction, and if you do (or, for that matter, if you don’t), you’ll let us know. Because I, for one, think this may be the best issue we’ve put out yet. There are more shoes, more designers—just more kicks, period.

And then there’s the cover. It’s funny—I’ve got shoes older than Carmelo Anthony. Seriously. More than one pair, too, which is just scary. But this isn’t about the past—this is about the future. Michael Jordan has been retired (again) for a full season now, and it seems like he’s going to stay that way this time. Every day, every minute, another kid discovers the game, and none of them will ever get the chance to see Michael Jordan play live. From now on, Mike’s playing career will only exist on DVDs and in memories. He’s then, not now.

So all of a sudden, the Air Jordan is going the way of the Chuck Taylor. (OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you know what I mean.) Here’s a high-performance basketball shoe—an entire line, for that matter—based on a player who no longer plays. That’s tough. Damn near unprecedented. Mike may have been the best ever. But so was Wilt Chamberlain in his time, and I don’t think he’s got much selling power at the moment.

Enter Melo. Born the same year that Mike entered the Draft, he’s got the similarities (NCAA title as a freshman, third pick in the Draft behind a questionable seven-footer) and, more importantly, the differences (Western Conference, the braids, the sneaky moves around the basket, the uniform number) to be a true heir to MJ. There have been many “next Jordans” since Mike’s retirements, but Melo seems best-equipped so far to take the weight. Perhaps that’s why the Jordan people saw fit to give him his own line at the ripe old age of 19. Anyway, the answers are inside, along with lots more. Enjoy.


Russ Bengtson

P.S. I’m a full-blown sneaker addict, and this issue damn near kills me every year, so I don’t even pretend to know how the rest of my crew gets through it. Much love and thanks to the best staff in the biz.

KICKS 7 Carmelo Anthony