In 1996 I was six years old. You were still dominating the league with the Bulls, and I was still trying to be Toronto Raptors’ first draft pick of the 2010 NBA Draft.
I can’t remember exactly how the VHS ended up in my house, but I do remember needing to watch the movie as soon as possible. You were on the cover of the VHS tape, surrounded by my favourite Looney Tunes characters. How could a kid resist? I’ll never forget your game-winning layup to save the Tune Squad (spoiler alert, sorry). I’m also really glad you didn’t have to take your career to Moron Mountain! That would not have gone well, not one bit.
20 years later and I still cannot stop watching the movie. I’m pretty sure I’ve made a Space Jam reference at least once a day ever since that first watch. Space Jam was and still is a getaway for me. It’s a movie and world I can escape to. With that said, I think it’s obvious what silhouette and colourway it is that means the most to me. Other than being a timeless design, the Space Jam 11 is a symbol of who I am and the childhood I lived.
For those that don’t know me, I’m truly a kid at heart. Before sneakers, my heart belonged to cartoons, comic books and video games. Those obsessions are still around, but have faded a tiny tiny bit behind shoes. I mean, I still collect toys.
My first exposure to the shoe outside the movie was through my big brother; Canada Got Sole co-founder, Alvin. I wasn’t too into sneakers just yet, but I remember thinking “damn, those are beautiful.” when I first checked out his pair. I immediately understood why they were such a coveted pair and fell in love at first sight.
Coming into the sneaker game a wee bit late, I wasn’t aware of or knew about any upcoming Space Jam releases. When they dropped in 2009, my head was (still is) heavy into SB Dunks. So I prioritized the SB Dunk Low over the Jordan 11. Also, I couldn’t afford resell (still can’t) and I never had a chance to grab a pair at retail. It wasn’t until seven years later did I get my first opportunity to grab my Jumpman holy grail at a good price.
The rumours of them dropping in 2016 blew up earlier in the year, and I knew I had to have them. Out of all the 2016 releases, the Space Jam 11s were important to making my year complete. Needed them. “Essential to my life” type of needed them. I entered a raffle, and just wished for the best. The release date was fast approaching, and I was super optimistic that I’d win a pair. I had to. It was such a wide release!
It was the eve of the launch and I didn’t get a call or message saying I won. Severely heartbroken, I was ready to start looking into resell value for any year of the shoe. Could’ve been worn, tried on, DS or VVVVNDS. I didn’t care. But a day later, I got a call and the lady on the other line greeted me with, “Hey, were you still interested in a pair of Space Jams? Some people didn’t pick up their pairs and we re-raffled them! You won!” You can imagine the big smile that flew across my face. I finally got them. I now own a pair of Air Jordan 11s in the Space Jam colourway. I now own a piece of my childhood in shoe-form; perfectly combining my first love with my newest passion in life.
I cannot wait to UNDS my pair on my birthday in a week and a bit. And now, it’s time to hunt for another pair but with the two-three on the heel instead of the “45”.
Thank you MJ for being such a legend, and thank you Tinker Hatfield for designing such an iconic piece of footwear history. A shoe I always felt was a staple and a must-have in every sneakerheads’ inventory.