Back in ’96, Grant Hill was the new hotness. He’d won rookie of the year two seasons prior and was coming off his first All-NBA selection, a year in which he also had his first signature shoe. Grant Hill was on the way to becoming the next big thing in the NBA, and with that, a marketing force.
You’ve got to remember that back in the day, Fila wasn’t the joke that they are today. Not only did they have endorsement deals with Hill, but also Jerry Stackhouse, Barry Bonds, and Sammy Sosa. I had the first Grant Hill shoe. I had a red Pistons Hill alternate. I drank Sprite regularly. Needless to say, when the new Grant Hills came out, I was going to have them.
At that same time, Nike was preparing to release the Best Basketball Shoe Ever Created – the Air Jordan XI. Let’s take a second to enjoy how fantastic these shoes really are:Besides the fact that the new Jordans were amazing looking, they also had purple accents and my school colors were purple and white. Believe me, finding shoes with purple on them that looked decent was nearly impossible. These were pretty much the ideal shoe for someone in my situation. So, of course, I had my mom get me the Grant Hills.
It was a decision that haunted me for at least 4 years. I had a mom willing to drop serious cash on some shoes for a barely A-team 8th grader and I picked the stupid Grant Hills. They were good shoes, but in no way were they legendary. However, in the year 2000, Nike saved me from myself by retro-ing the Jordan XI’s in the original white/black/purple colorway. I didn’t make the same mistake. I called the night before the release, reserved a pair, and then took the day off school to get the Best Basketball Shoe Ever Created. That season I sported the XI’s (except for one game in orange Dunks), a huge Bill Walton fro or cornrows, and a headband on my way to becoming that year’s Most Improved Player1. I’m not saying it was the shoes, but it was probably the shoes.
- Seriously. I looked pretty ridiculous my senior year of high school. I have a picture that will be unearthed soon.