So I have something to share with everybody here…
My favorite pair of Air Jordans isn’t the Concords or the True Blues or the Space Jams or the Bordeauxs or the Tokyo 23s or the Last Shots or the Eminems. It’s not even the Air Jordan I that my dad bought for me as a kid when I had no idea who MJ was. It’s a pair that I consider to be just head and shoulders above any Air Jordan ever made and ever will be made. And it is named after the games where MJ plays at the highest level.
The Air Jordan XII “Playoffs.” The same shoe that MJ wore when he dunked over Dikembe Mutombo, shot a game-winner over Byron Russell in the NBA Finals (the first time) and turned the raised fist celebration into the first ever basketball meme. I had to have it. I’m normally not a proponent of lining up hours or days for ANYTHING, let alone shoes, but I was going to make an exception for this one.
And then I learned the “Playoffs” was dropping on the same weekend as my brother’s wedding in Las Vegas. Fantastic.
I could just picture it now. Lining up in front of Ceasar’s Palace with a few hundred sneakerheads desperately waiting to pick up a pair and sell on eBa… I mean, keep for their collection. And with my brother’s wedding taking place that afternoon and me not being able to drive out to Vegas until Saturday morning, things were looking bleak. I could only imagine the look on people’s faces when I miss the wedding and not even get a pair of the “Playoffs.”
And then Nike introduced a Twitter RSVP system. Without getting too much into the minutiae of how it works (here are the full details), basically each local Nike Store will be announcing through Twitter where reservations for a specific release are available and that people have a limited amount of time to reserve a pair. Once all the pairs have been taken, Nike will contact you to let you know if you did successfully get one. With the cliam that this would solve the recent string of negative publicity surrounding some of their higher profile releases in the last few months, this would be a good test case to see its effectiveness.
When Nike Las Vegas announced that they would make the shoes available at a random time this past Thursday, my eyes were focused on the refresh button. At any moment, Nike could announce that reservations were open. That means I could lose out on a pair (and a feature story) because I left my keyboard to get some lunch . Thankfully, I refreshed my phone’s Twitter app at the right time before I had to leave the house and I managed to catch the store’s announcement. Later that night, I received a message saying that I had managed to successfully reserve a pair and that it would be available on Saturday from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm to pick up. Good times.
When I arrived at 2:30 pm that day to pick up my shoes, it was just like any other Saturday. There was no line, no signage pushing people away or even an employee at the front of the store asking what my intentions were for stepping inside, as if I looked like an opportunistic reseller. In fact, I actually had to ask several employees if they were even running the promotion. After quite a bit of investigating, there was a counter in a nondescript section of the store that held my shoes. After showing off my Twitter DM and drivers license (Nike’s way of verifying who you are), I paid my $160 plus tax and was on my way. If Nike Las Vegas was Kobe Bryant, he would have just said, “You’re Welcome” and sent me on my merry way.
According to the Nike Store employees, the launch went without a single hitch. Before the store had opened at 10:00 am, there were people already waiting, but most of them had reservations and just wanted to get the shoes as soon as they opened. There were still a few stragglers looking to make off with a pair by overpaying for them, but that’s the perogative of the owner of the shoe at that point and there’s no point in blaming Nike for that. All in all, it was a very peaceful process, according to the employees.
While some would argue that the Twitter system takes away the thrill of the hunt to a certain extent and the camaraderie that goes along with waiting in line with other fans, it is a small sacrifice to get rid of the idiots who think it’s a good idea to fight over shoes. It would be better if the store at least gave people a whole day to pick up their shoe before releasing them again, but the policy is understandable.
Expect Nike to continue with this practice in the coming weeks. And as popular as the “Playoffs” are, the real test for this will be in December when the Air Jordan XI “Bred” returns. So my advice for people who missed out on this because they do not have Twitter accounts, now would be a good time to learn your @ replies and the difference between that and a direct message.
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