I’ve been obsessed with basketball shoes since I was a kid, despite being completely incompetent on a court. I spent hours staring at new additions to Champion and Olympus Sports, but I assumed I might grow out of it — I certainly never expected Nike to ever come calling to contribute to a project based around them. Over the last couple of years I’ve had the privilege of doing just that. To coincide with the Basketball World Cup in Spain I got to work with London’s own Magdi Fernandes, Nike and the kind contribution of some serious collectors to create an exhibition that, selfishly, featured some of my favourite shoes ever. Taken down from a collection of 240+ shoes and after making those emails cry, we took it down to 86 shoes to coincide with the whole Search for the Baddest/Come out in Force campaign in Madrid. Nike and Rosie Lees created six custom cabinets (here’s a better shot of one) to deliver an overview of Nike Basketball, Air Force and Air Jordan from 1972 to the present day. Getting the Franchise, Air Force STS, Alpha Force Low and the 1996 Python AF1 alongside the crowdpleasers in there was indulgence on my part, but there just aren’t enough exhibitions with those things in them these days. I don’t think this one is going to go on tour, so I’ll hunt some more professional shots, but in the meantime, here’s some hastily shot iPhone snaps of some of my favourite shoes. Shouts to Nike for getting me involved.
Growing up, I noticed Jerry Hurtado aka. Skatemaster Tate’s name seemed to crop up an awful lot. Whether it was through music, or as his moniker suggests, skating, Tate seemed to drift through left coast subcultures, with the ease that he displayed when he was drifting through traffic on his ever-present longboard.
As a disclaimer, I’m prejudiced toward longboards. Tate and Andy Kessler (RIP) are an exception – too often, they’re transporting a lean character in bootcut denim, Quicksilver sneakers and wraparound shades who undoubtedly hi-fives after blitzing “brewskis” and date rapes girls with noserings to a scratched CD of whalesong. As a second disclaimer, should you go YouTubing, please do not judge me on the basis of the Skatemaster’s atrocious ‘Justice To The Bass’ with The Concrete Crew – I’m fully aware it makes ‘Rico Suave’ sound like Nasir Jones by comparison. Instead, we should take a look at the man’s other achievements.