Here we go again with another installment of Sneaker Grails, your weekly look into sneakers that have been long-forgotten, long-awaited or require a long bank account to acquire. Previous chapters have included looks at the Air Jordan 1 Chicago and the Nike Air Force 1 Playstation.

This December, the Air Jordan 6 Maroon is scheduled to drop at retail for the first time since 1991. Dressed in an off-white upper with maroon accents, the shoe was never worn by Michael Jordan on an NBA court, but he did wear it for a Nike photoshoot along with other classic gear at the time.

The Shoe Game
The Shoe Game

Along with last year’s Air Jordan 6 Sport Blue, the Maroon 6 (man, Adam Levine would love it if they had made a Maroon Air Jordan 5 back in the day) was one of the few remaining early Jordans that had yet to get the retro treatment. It was one of the rare instances – the Air Jordan 11 being the other example – of Jordan Brand taking their time and not saturating the market with too many new colorways. But just like the Sport Blue 6, I have to ask the same (mostly rhetorical) question: who actually cares about the Maroon 6s? There’s no way these kicks earned the “grail status”, right?

There are millions of people who remember Michael Jordan winning his first championship. Of those millions, you can break it down and figure out who among them remember or owned the kicks MJ wore en route to winning the title.  Jordan wore the famous Air Jordan 6 Black/Infrared, the beloved Air Jordan 6 White/Infrared and the super popular Air Jordan 6 Carmine during the 1990-91 season. If those three kicks were the Jordan, Pippen and Grant of 6s, the Sport Blue 6 and the Maroon 6 were Bill Cartwright and John Paxson. In other words, they were integral to the success of the team/shoe, but you had to be there to truly appreciate them. There’s a reason we listed the Maroon so low in our list of the best Air Jordan 6s of all-time last year and there was nary a complaint. It was a deep cut that has its fans, but they didn’t have the same impact as those kicks Jordan actually wore for gametime.

So we asked the Kicks On Fire community on Twitter what they thought about the Air Jordan 6 Maroon. We used the new poll feature and this was the response:

The results – an overwhelming majority were pumped for the release – was not the surprise. In fact, I was hoping that would be the case. What I really wanted to know was why people cared so much about a shoe that probably dropped way before many of them were even born. And no, I didn’t want to just hear the explanation “it’s hyped up” because that doesn’t actually explain anything (that’s basically the sneakerhead way of saying “just because” whenever they get asked a question that requires more thought beyond “yes” or “nah”). The replies were illuminating to say the least.

Saw him when? In his prime? On the Wizards? A slickly produced YouTube highlight reel? Need more information.

Genuine nostalgia makes sense to me. I have plenty of kicks (Nike Air Way Up being the most recent example) that came back and went straight to outlet stores but got me fired up because of nostalgia. I still wouldn’t consider them grails though.


Believe me, if Twitter allowed for nuance both on the polls and in their 140-character format, there would be a “ehhhhhhhh” option.

Like them because they’re old or because they’re classic? But how is classic defined anyways?

Oh by the way, the kicks are $220. Yeah…

The fact that this shoe got the “Nike Air” treatment is interesting to say the least. Would people care as much if it had the Jumpman instead?

Each time the Carmine 6 or the Infrareds have come back there has been plenty of excitement for them. So if Maroon had been on the same retro schedule, would there be this fervor for them?

Wait, what?

Again, what?

Thankfully, that conversation ended without bashing or name-calling.

So for some it’s nostalgia while others like the “Nike Air” and then there are the group that likes them because this their first time getting a retro. None of those things sound like reasons to call them a grail (although maybe the OG in wearable condition is probably a grail at this point), but at least those sound better than just being a clown and saying “because it was hyped”.