The following is an actual tweet, which is brilliantly sublime if you peel the layers behind it, kind of like the Air Jordan 28 (XX8) itself…
Is Tinker Hatfield trolling the sneaker game? http://t.co/uh5Pd13O
— Paul Pennington (@paulpennington) December 4, 2012
Tinker Hatfield is the most well-known and respected name in the sneaker world that never played in the NBA. He is Shigeru Miyamoto to Michael Jordan’s Mario*. His celebrity is such that he could easily walk down 5th Avenue without being noticed or harassed, but if he stepped inside Flight Club or KITH NYC, he would be treated like a God by the Nike faithful. Because he has done so much for the progression of the basketball shoe, he has earned a level of respect and creative freedom that nobody else has at Nike or anywhere else for that matter.
So when Hatfield comes out with something like the Air Jordan XX8, it’s a shock to the sneakerhead community. Here they are with cash in hand, ready to double down with whatever is coming out and they get, well, that…
No designer has the built-up goodwill that Hatfield has. It’s a testament to his greatness that the reaction to the Air Jordan XX8 is that he has either lost his mind or he’s playing some sort of elaborate joke on the people. The reality is that it’s a little bit of both. You need to be a little crazy to bring out something like the XX8. Everybody likes to reminisce about the past with this false narrative that everybody was instantly in love with everything Hatfield made, when really, he is actually the master of not giving the people what they want, but what the people did not know that they want.
For those of us in attendance, our reaction to the XX8 when we first saw it was one of confusion as well. But instead of turning to Twitter and letting the world know that it’s “teh stupid” seconds after seeing it, we let it sink in so we could actually think beyond the shroud, although the shroud itself is a big reason why people will eventually turn to the shoes.
So with a few months between the announcement of the shoe and its February release, here are a few reasons to give the Air Jordan XX8 a real chance. There are plenty of people already swearing off it, which is a shame. Having spent some time with them on our feet at the launch event in New York City, it definitely left a different kind of impression on our minds than what most people have at the moment.
*In this analogy, Nike is Nintendo, LeBron is Link and Kevin Durant is Samus Aran. Kobe is definitely Bowser.
The return to roman numerals
So when the XX8 was announced, there was a bit of confusion as to why they decided to go back to numbering them properly instead of going by year as they had been doing after the Air Jordan XX3 (2009-2012). From the outside looking in, XX8 goes beyond the marketing and actually re-embraces the legacy of the Air Jordan 1-XX3. It was like the Super Bowl taking a break from Roman numerals and calling it 2013 next year. It was just confusing and fixing something that wasn’t broke. It also makes it easier for Nike and sneakerheads to categorize it now. It’s the little things sometimes, really. Although I wish they would call it XXVIII instead of XX8…