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Air Jordans, Marketing and Lost Minds
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The scenes were reminiscent of the worst Black Friday incidents: Shoppers lining up for hours and breaking through doors. Folks suffering injuries from being trampled or punched. Police resorting to pepper spray to subdue unruly crowds.

Except this wasn't Black Friday. It was an Air Jordans-release Friday, and it prompted an outbreak of madness, mayhem and melees across the country.


The Jordan XI Concords are replicas of the shoes Michael Jordan wore when he returned to the NBA in 1995 after his one-year hiatus as a minor-league baseball player. Retailing for $180 for men (lower prices for children and -- yes -- toddlers), the white shoes with the black patent leather surrounding the bottom revolutionized the sneaker industry.


But they're still just sneakers, no matter how much status is misguidedly attached to them.


The craziness surrounding Air Jordans seemed to die down in recent years -- nothing compared to the danger of purchasing and/or wearing early versions of the shoe, created in 1985. There were reports of muggings and even murder by miscreants who wanted a pair without having to purchase them.


Unfortunately, the sense of "anything goes" has seemingly returned. While a Friday murder over the shoes in the Washington, D.C., area has been rumored but not confirmed, no one will be surprised if such a crime does occur.


Based on accounts from Georgia (where a mother reportedly left her toddlers in the car while purchasing the shoes) to California (where the crowd was turned away after a gunshot rang out) to New Jersey (where police arrested a group of five that snatched three pairs of shoes from shoppers and drove off), the wildness has just begun.


Nike, which makes an estimated $1 billion annually on Air Jordans, helped create the frenzy by suggesting that the shoes would be in limited supply. In a pre-release statement, the company said, "Tinker made it shine. Mike made it fly. You made it iconic. Jordan 11s only come around once a year, so don’t miss this highly anticipated release."


Spokesmen from the company were hard to find Friday as news from malls and other outlets poured in. But we already know what they'll say: that they condemn any violence associated with their products and urge fans to increase the peace.

Nike is great at marketing and promoting its products, but we can't blame the company if folks respond by acting like fools. That's a look-in-the-mirror problem -- but not looking down at what's on your feet. Looking straight ahead at what's in your mind.

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Of course you're right, Yemaya.  


I caught those scenes on the news yesterday.  All I could think of was, "for shoes"?  It's a damn shame that many of those people buying $180.00 shoes are probably unemployed, under employed, live in government housing, receive public assistance or are purchasing them with ill gotten money.  


However, there are many people/guys out there that follow this and other shoe lines way ahead of time and have probably been saving all years to get a pair.  But, it is also a damn shame that Michael Jordan won't produce some quality sneakers/shoes that are affordable for people that grew up within (and below) the same income bracket that he did.  

  Yeah....a colleague of mines was pointing out that in the subs not many folks are out there shopping like a madman....but!  In the hood?  Can't even get a parking space.  Black folks are out there like it's no crisis in the economy  They're out there like they HAVE two or three JOBS!    That's crazy.  There is no way on God's green earth....I will ever pay that kind of money for a pair of funky azz tennis shoes-not even track shoes....especially NOW. This is testimony of our values and common sense.....thrown out the window.  Only in America.  But! 

Someone mentioned to ME the other day that the crack babies of the eighties have now come of age. I wonder how much of this pathology may be attributable not only to this infantile behavior, but to a laundry list of other crimes that not that long ago, including the murdering of BABIES, the random beatings and murdering of the elderly, random home invasions and shootings across all 'age-lines' (and even in the 'suburbs',) had actually otherwise been thought inconceivable?


I'M just thinking aloud but, I'D love to see some concrete data on the subject--if such data could actually be compiled.


The Elders warned long ago that WE would be 'losing' a generation. But such psychotic acts over a pair of gym shoes? This has gone far and away beyond screwed up priorities, this has just flat out entered the realm of mental illness.


But I ain't 'shook'....nah...just a little disappointed. Our wisest voices have been ignored for far too long that's all. 

  The Elders were half right.....we've lost TWO generations of blackfolks.  Those in the 80s and the 90s. And the data of affected dysfunctional generations as a direct result of the "crack" and do nothing eras will probably take time and lot of patience to compile.  But!  Physical evidence is jammed in prisons, juvenile detentions, graveyards and seen in gang and destructive behavior............all over the country!   You see my brotha, we are STILL in denial about so many things...even when it's looking straight in our faces.  It called "blind" acceptance....and you don't have to put it on paper to know that the ramifications of our loss is in real time and continues to occur everyday....but!  I'm just sayin

ESPN: Michael Jordan Behind Violent Shoe Frenzy


Date: Wednesday, January 04, 2012, 11:05 am


ESPN writer Jemele Hill says that the promotion of greed and insanity over footwear is to blame. (Photo: AP)

Michael Jordan and Nike are being blamed for a rash outbreak of violence over a new pair of shoes.

ESPN writer Jemele Hill writes in a recent column  that both Jordan and the sports shoe juggernaut need to take responsibility for their promotion of greed and blanket insanity over footwear.

The company marketed a pair of Air Jordan XI Concords for a very limited time for Christmas.

The $180 shoes were in such high demand that it caused consumers to break out in fights, stampedes, and other abnormal behaviors.

Here’s what Ms. Hill wrote.

Last week, Jordan and Nike released his retro gym shoe, the Air Jordan XI Concords — which Jordan wore during the 1995-96 season, when the Bulls notched a record 72 regular-season victories and won the NBA championship — in time for the Christmas rush, but the special release incited a rash of violence nationwide…

Jordan and Nike didn’t directly encourage this recklessness. They didn’t tell people to trample others who waited in line, and it’s not their fault that a segment of people have such skewed priorities.

But that doesn’t absolve Jordan or Nike for willingly feeding an out-of-control monster.

Let’s put aside the fact that these Air Jordans cost an absurd $180. The marketing campaign for these shoes is essentially akin to yelling “fire” in a crowded movie theater.

Nike, which created the Air Jordan brand in 1984, makes a big deal out of the fact that it only releases the Jordan XIs — arguably Jordan’s most sought-after shoe — once a year and they will be in available only in extremely limited supply.

Translation: Do whatever you have to do to get these shoes.

And if people get hurt in the process, so be it.

Yes, it’s the basic supply-and-demand sales strategy, but it’s irresponsible for Nike to ignore the violent problems these limited-edition shoes create.

Do you think Jordan and Nike played a part in the violent frenzy over the new shoe? Comment below.

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