To All the Kicks I’ve Loved Before: A Love Letter to Hoop Shoes

We all miss basketball.

The sound of the ball as it goes through the hoop. The squeak of the sneakers on the hardwood. The roar of the crowd. Mike Breen’s “Bang!” or Boom Gonzales’ “Gets it to go!”

What’s the best way to cope when you miss something you can’t have at the moment? You write it a love letter.

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Dear Basketball Shoes,

Before I even knew how to dribble a ball, I was already enamored by the sight of you.

I remember when my obsessive addiction all started — it was the day I saw my cousin lace up a pair of Nike Air Penny V’s in one of our family reunions. You caught me off guard and I just didn’t know what to feel.

Then it hit me.

I began to have this warm, fuzzy feeling all over my body. I just couldn’t stop looking at you. All I knew was that I had to have you. I guess I could say that you were my first crush (I’m sorry Lily Collins).

From that day on, I devoted so much of my life caught up in an endless spiral of coveting, searching, and (occasionally) purchasing you. You ignited a passion in me that hasn’t withered to this day.

I then began to live vicariously through the NBA players who wear a different pair of shoes each game. Sometimes, I’d be more eager to see what the likes of Mike Bibby and Ray Allen are wearing on court, rather than the basketball game itself.

What a blasphemous thing to say to the basketball gods. But that’s just how much you meant to me.

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Basketball Shoes, you have colored my life so much. Because of you, I had to make sure that my feet were always laced up with some heat. Looking back, I’ve had the pleasure of owning quite a lot of good ones over the years.

I remember my very first pair was the Adidas KG Bounce, way back when he was still in Minnesota, which was a gift to me for my birthday.

Eventually, I would get my own pair of Air Penny V’s which I luckily stumbled upon during one of the first times I went abroad.

I can remember the time I felt like The Phenom himself when I got the Nike Hyperfuse Kiefer wore in his rookie year. I really felt that I played like a Phenom myself in those kicks, minus the skill and the athleticism, of course.

And how can I forget the agony of finding out that the Kobe 6 ‘Grinch’ was sold out, only to see my PE coach casually waltzing around school laced up in one a few weeks later?

Oh, that one hurt badly.

I made up for it by copping the Kobe 7 ‘Fireberry’, which I played in until literally the soles came off.

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I could go on and on really, but I suppose you already know where I’m getting at. I just wanted to let you know that each pair carried a special memory to them.

As I’ve gotten older though, I figured that there are more important things to buy than basketball shoes and that is why I’ve stuck with my trusty pair of 2016 Hyperdunk Lows to this day. But in all my years of coveting, and purchasing basketball shoes, I only realize now why you have been so important to me, and perhaps to millions of sneaker heads alike:

We become whatever story, whatever promise, or whatever idea we give to our pair of kicks. To be given that chance to imagine a different reality, is something truly magical. I guess that’s just what the world needs right now.

As I am writing this letter, I find it amazing how these precious moments in my life transcend time just by thinking about each pair I’ve owned and worn. Nowadays, I’m left staring at a handful of shoeboxes in my room, just waiting to be set free once again.

Dear Basketball Shoes, thank you for reminding us of another life we’ve had, one that sadly we can never return to.

Thank you for becoming a part of who we are.

PS: To my parents and family members who bought me all of the shoes I mentioned above, please know that each one of them was cherished dearly. I wouldn’t have been able to write this piece without you guys.

PPS: Thank God they’re bringing back the Grinch 6s next year. I’m not making that mistake again.

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