Monday, June 19, 2006

Real stories about AF1s

That’s right, they have flavor like the Flavor Unit but this isn’t Queen Latifah’s hood. I’m talking about straight unadulterated flavor with a capital “F”. They come in colors like khaki and pink, navy blue or obsidian as NKE likes to refer to the color and white. There are also pairs in varsity red and white and the color schemes go on and on like an Erika Badu song. This time we’re not going to call Tyrone but call upon some guests like the one and only Mike Wizzle from Brooklyn, NY and Kev Dogg from Englewood, CA.

I sat down with these gentlemen and got the story directly from them. What they say may surprise you.

SP: Mike Wizzle, how you been man? It’s been a long time in the making but we’re finally sitting down face-to-face to talk kicks. One of your favorite sneakers are the Air Force 1s. Why AF1s?
MW: Thanks for having me SP and I must say that I’m feeling your blog and I make sure I share it with other ‘heads . You always drop science and cut right to the heart of what’s going on on the streets.

SP: Thank you man and thank you for reading my stuff. I try to be the best at whatever it is that I do. We have to Teach the Children.
MW: So true man, so true. So onto the Air Force 1's. They are hot man! Ever since 1982 I’ve been into Uptowns, man. We call them Uptowns in New York City because the only place that you could get them were uptown Manhattan. I used to drop by a couple spots up on Fordham Road and get the ones with the ill colors. Remember the spot called Jew Man?

SP: Do I ever? Jew Man was the place to get the crazy color 1s. Don’t get me started about Jewman’s, I can go on for days. Ok, what was it about going uptown to get kicks? Were there no spots in Brooklyn to grab the latest AF1s?
MW: It was an adventure man. I would jump on the Subway and head into Manhattan via the “D” train and get off on Fordham Road and the Grand Concourse. I was in unchartered waters bro. I’m a Brooklyn cat and here I was in the middle of the Bronx but it was all about getting the hottest kicks. I couldn’t get the flavors in Brooklyn. There were only the white and red joints and maybe some white and blue pairs, if I was lucky.

SP: What’s the hottest pair that you had or have today?
MW: It would have to be the navy blue and yellow jeweled swoosh pair that remind me of the Michigan Wolverines. I have always been a Wolverines fan!

SP: So you must have been ecstatic when the Fab 5 showed up at the Big House?
MW: No doubt about it man. I was a freshman in college too and nothing was more entertaining than watching these cats play ball. The baggy shorts with the black socks and the black Nike sneakers. It was pure ecstasy. I loved it when they were in the tunnel, prior to taking the court, and you could hear them chant, “Nut Up!”

SP: Yeah, the Fab 5 was raw and they brought a street swagger to the game and really changed the game of college basketball.
MW: They certainly did and we’re still seeing there impact on the game today. Just look around the NCAA and at any big schools and you’ll see traces of Rose, Webber, Howard, King and Jackson. College basketball would not be the same if it weren’t for these cats.

SP: Well, if we had more time we could get into it but it all goes back to the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels of 1990. They started it ALL.
MW: UNLV did their thing in 1990 but I would put the Wolverines up against the Runnin’ Rebels any day and I’d give the Runnin’ Rebels 10 points.

SP: So, it’s like that man? I’m going to hold my tongue for an interview for a later date and time. Thanks for sitting down with me and keep checking out the posts as I’ll be hitting you with some statistics in the near future. Keep rocking those navy blue and yellow Air Force 1s because next time we meet, we’re playing for them. I hope you don’t have holes in your socks?
MW: I hope you can keep up old man? Thanks for interviewing me and I look forward to seeing my name on your blog. Peace.

After talking more trash with Mike, I made my way to JFK and jumped on a JetBlue flight to the west side. Now, an east coast cat like myself loves to travel and whenever I get on a plane to California, LL Cool J’s “I’m going back to Cali” starts invading my cerebellum. I don’t know what it is. My primary motor cortex (M1) starts messing with me and I start dancing like Humpty of Digital Underground. If I keep this up, security at JFK won’t let me through the security check point. They’ll take me to some small, dark room in the bowels of the airport where they’ll make me strip like a fat lady at a pudding wrestling match.

Ok, I digress, going to the west coast makes me wonder why is it that the people on the west coast seem to live more glamorous lives than people on the east coast? Is there something in the water or do they have a better balance between work and personal time? I would put money on there being something in the water. Shit, if there’s nothing in the water then there must be some good herb in the smog.

After doing my impersonation of Sweetness with the security guards, I make my way to pick up a rental car; I won’t mention the company’s name, but I must say that this company knows how to take care of their customers. I jumped in the car, turned the key and what do I hear but my man E-40 bumping from the 6-speaker system.

I play car double-dutch with the traffic getting on Sepulveda Boulevard and make my way to the Ritz Carlton-Marina del Rey. The doormen greet me with the typical pounds and, “Welcome to the Ritz Carlton Mr. Proprietor.” I simply nod and give a double-nod to my main man, Wes, who’s been taking care of me for years. Wes makes sure that my ride is right outside and up front just in case I need to bolt over to the Staples Center or jump on the 405 Southbound to drop in on my brother from another mother-JJ [Jesse James] at WCC.

After getting settled into my suite overlooking the marina, I head downstairs to meet Kev Dogg whom I’ve met before but never for an interview. Kev Dogg is the type of guy that is always in control, even when the situation is tense, Kev Dogg is as cool as the other side of the pillow. Shit, Kev Dogg is so laid back that he’s quick to reference Reverend Pillow and Deacon Sheets. The man just loves to sleep but get him in a club or a large group of people and he takes over like the IRS on tax day. Women and men alike have no chance when this dude walks into the room.

After grabbing a couple drinks from the Wave Restaurant, Kev Dogg and I grab a couple of lounge chairs and start talking kicks.

SP: Kev Dogg, it’s been awhile since we’ve last seen each other? How long has it been bro?

KD: Man it’s been 5 months 2 days and 18 hours, but who’s counting? [laughs out loud].

SP: You’re killing me already man. So, we’ve kicked it a couple time at parties at Kobe’s place and at Shaq’s place when he was with the Lakers, but we’ve never sat down to talk about kicks. Speaking of kicks, what sneakers are you wearing right now?
KD: Man these are the Olympic Barkley 180s! These kicks bring back memories of the first Dream Team from 1992.

SP: You know I love some Air Force 180s but there is something special about the Olympic joints. The entire series of kicks that the Dream Team wore in ‘92 were hot.
KD: For sure man. MJ was killing people with the Olympic7's with the number “9" on the back, Barkley wore the Olympic Air Force 180s, David Robinson wore the Air Command Force kicks and Magic and Bird had their Converse Weapons. Hold up! How could I forget about the man that always delivered- Karl Malone with the crazy LA Gears. Remember those kicks man?

SP: For sure man. Karl wore those high LA Gear Catapults that cats in my neighborhood thought would make them jump higher. What were they thinking?

KD: The things about those kicks were they were a great gimmick and people rushed out and bought them. I remember this guy from my high school basketball team that had a pair. He got them at the beginning of the school year but must have kept them in the box until it was time for us to begin practicing for the upcoming season. They were white with yellow and purple accents. He was a huge Lakers fan, so he thought he was the hot shit by having these kicks. We both played the small forward position so he and I would go at it every practice.

SP: What year was this and what kicks were you wearing?
KD: It must have been 1990 man. I remember I had this fresh pair of Air Flight Lite sneakers in black and purple. Those sneakers were so light and comfortable that I had to get the white, black and orange pair when they came out. I still have them sitting in a box somewhere.

SP: So what types of battles did you have with this LA Gear Catapult wearing dude?
KD: Well, we would go at each other hard throughout practice. He was a good player but I had a little more quickness and handle on him. On one fast break my team didn’t get back on defense and his team had a 3 on 1. I stood in the middle of the key until the point guard looked as if he’d committed to shooting, I ran right at him hoping that he’d pull up for a jump shot. Man was I wrong. He pulled up alright, but he gave a sweet pass to dude on the right side of the basket and he took off and flushed it. He then had the gall to run back up the court saying, “I got the Catapults baby.” I thought to myself that if I caught him on the break I was going to try to flush it on his face. I didn’t care that we were on the same team. If he had dunked the ball and didn’t say anything, then it would have been a good play but I wasn’t about to get clowned on by this dude wearing LA Gear sneakers.

SP: Did you ever get your chance to dunk on him?
KD: It took most of the season, man. We would talk trash to each other during scrimmages. It didn’t matter that I would make him look ridiculous by hitting jump shots in his face or grab a rebound and clap on him as I scored. I knew the day would come and then it happened during our Holiday Classic game. The starting 5 would play the second string team. My team was up by 5 points with just over 3 minutes left in the game. We’re out there huffing and puffing up and down the court but we had been running hard the entire game.

My team was supposed to win and we sure were not going to let these scrubs beat us. As the 4th period was coming to a close my big man grabbed a rebound and hit the point guard with a fierce outlet pass that had a crazy back spin on the ball. The ball landed in front of him and spun perfectly back to the point guard. I was running hard on the left side and my man Winston was running hard on the right side. Now, my point guard had a sweet handle and he had this one move that looked like Magic Johnson from the Showtime days. Can you tell we’re all Lakers fans? [laughs] So, he fakes hard to his right as if he’s going to throw a chest pass but quickly brought the ball back with his right hand and dished it to me under his left arm. So, I’m thinking I have a running start and LA Gear Catatpult dude is standing right under the basket. I knew there was no way for the referee to call a charge. I felt myself grinning almost reminiscent of The Grinch that Stole Christmas. I knew I had him and he knew he was had too. I was wearing the same black and purple Air Flight Lites and I jumped as hard as I could and threw it down through the hoop and tried to hit him with the ball. My friends said I let out a scream that was liken to a gay guy in Provincetown, MA. I didn’t care. All that I knew was that I got dude and from that point on I started calling him Some Dude because he was Some Dude that I dunked on from that point forward. [laughs]

SP: That is a great story that you’re going to have to share with your kids and grand kids some day. Have you seen Some Dude or know where he is?
KD: He actually went on to play basketball right up the road at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) but left school after Hank Gathers died. I heard he eventually went back to school and completed his degree in Business Administration. I used to see him at the Fox Hills Mall but I haven’t seen him in over 8 years. I wonder where he is and what he’s up to?

SP: So, back to the reason why I flew all the way out here. Talk to me about Air Force 1's.
KD: They’re classic sneakers that never go out of style. I started wearing Air Force 1's because I saw Moses Malone wearing them. This was back in the day when Moses was with the Philadelphia 76ers. Moses was unstoppable and the white and red Air Force 1's that he wore were on fire! I wanted a pair so badly but I couldn’t find a pair at all on the west coast so I had my family in New York and New Jersey look for a pair for me. They had no luck but that didn’t stop me from looking for them.

SP: Did you ever find the whit and red AF1s? When did you get your first pair of Air Force 1's?
KD: I found a pair but it wasn’t until 1985 that I got the exact ones that Moses wore. My first pairs of 1s? It had to be 1984 when I got the white with a royal blue swoosh lows. They were heavy but they could take a beating like there was no tomorrow. I wore the hell out of those kicks man.

SP: Do you remember having a favorite outfit to wear them with?
KD: I had some blue Levis 501 jeans that I liked to wear with a white and royal blue striped Le Tigre shirt. When I wore that outfit, I was hurting people’s feelings. I knew I was too fly and sometime I would rock a royal blue Playboy bunny skully when it got cool. I even had a nameplate belt buckle that said, “K-Dogg”.

SP: It sounds like you had a lot of flavor for it being 1984?
KD: You know this man. I couldn’t look all busted. I had the fly kicks that not many people had and I had an outfit that matched perfectly. Now, I have over 150 pair of Forces. I like the colors that Nike keeps releasing but one thing that pissed me off is when Nike messed with the leather man. What’s up with this plastic like shit? Nike, bring back the nice tumbled leather from back in the days. Stop releasing this garbage! [loudly]

SP: There’s nothing like looking sharp and feeling fresh dressed like a million bucks like my man Slick Rick said in Lodi Dodi. Thanks for taking the time to sit down with me Kev Dogg. Until we meet again.
KD: You've got to come back to the west side and kick it with me. I have some sneaker spots that I’d like to take you to.

SP: I’m always up for hunting for kicks!

So, there you have it. Two very different perspectives with one unifying theme, people love sneakers and people particularly like the Nike Air Force 1. They've withstood the test of time and today you can find them in an assortment of colors and materials. Just remember this: Moses was the first to rock them and he did it oh so well.


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