Feeling Strangely Fast

The announcer on NBA Jam used a plethora of sweet phrases to describe the windmill, one-handed, reverse dunks that players started from the half-court line in that video game. My favorite was always, “IS IT THE SHOES?”

NBA Jam* got this from an old commercial starring Michael Jordan and Mars Blackmon, aka Spike Lee.  The shoes made the man. Or paying an exorbitant amount of money to further stuff the increasingly deep, not to mention imperialistic, pockets of Nike made the man.

*Quick Wikipedia tangent: It appears that the original arcade version of NBA Jam featured Drazen Petrovic for the Nets. He was not included on the Sega/Nintendo versions after his death. WOW. That would be insane to play with Drazen Petrovic. Someone send me an e-mail if they somehow own a video arcade or know the secrets of time travel and the location of a 1992 video arcade.

I bring this up because of the Nike Free shoes. The Nike Free shoes are for running, and they are Nike’s foray into the burgeoning movement of barefoot/minimalist running. They’ve helped me notice that it IS the shoes, and I’m not just talking about running.


About a month ago, I started wearing them for everyday purposes, you know, like going to Wal Mart and waiting in enormous lines or spending six and ¼ hours inside of Starbucks without ever spending money. It’s great. I feel like I am barefoot in public, only people aren’t staring at me, whispering under their breaths that I must have stumbled out of a backwoods hut just outside the city limits of Poplar Bluff, Mo. And boom-shaka-laka does barefoot feel good.

All day, normally, I can’t wait to get home and kick off my shoes or switch to flip-flops. Wearing these I don’t have to. I glide instead of walk, and a couple of drinks magnify the floating effect. They look really cool. My feet never hurt. I think that if Forrest Gump were sitting next to me on a bench he would compliment my shoes.

This shoe-effect actually isn’t a new phenomenon in my experience. Back in high school, I officiated baseball and basketball games. In baseball, Royals great George Brett, who was the assistant coach of his son’s team, once yelled at me after calling a series of balls against his team that went in the dirt as strikes (I HAD A BIG STRIKE ZONE, GEORGE. WHAT’S WRONG WITH ‘DAT?). I was better at basketball. I bought a pair of black Nike high-tops for those games I officiated.

Senior year, I had a great idea. Instead of wearing the pair of Reebok Question shoes I owned when I played basketball, I decided to wear my referee shoes when I played.

I got a lot of stares for my fashion choice*, but these shoes turned me from a slow perimeter shooter who committed way more intentional fouls than could be considered respectable into a slightly faster, slow perimeter shooter who committed way more intentional fouls than could be considered respectable. Big difference!

*I believe the shoes were called “The Air Janitor.”

And it is even better with these Nike Free’s. I am confident that if someone in the middle of downtown Dallas challenges me to a 100-meter race on the sidewalk for no apparent reason, I will win. That’s pretty important stuff.

But really, I don’t know exactly why I wrote this, so buy some Nike Free shoes if you want to live like a hippie who walks on air without anyone noticing it. And Nike, please send me a $500 check for this advertisement. In lieu of payment, I’ll also accept that original video arcade version of NBA Jam featuring Drazen Petrovic.

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