SALT LAKE CITY — A little more than a half-mile away from Vivint Arena, a group of less than 10 customers formed a line outside of Foot Locker in the City Creek Center.
Once the doors opened at approximately 10 a.m. Thursday, they rushed inside to grab the iconic black/red Air Jordan 14 sneaker.
Ironically, this is the same shoe that Michael Jordan broke the hearts of Utah Jazz fans in exactly 20 years ago with his last shot as a Chicago Bull over Bryon Russell during Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals.
“When it happened, he did it with ease,” recalled 28-year-old Cameron Hodges, who purchased a size 12. “As a kid, you go outside the next day and you’re practicing the whole shot. I was outside for hours and I was playing basketball and people started coming over so I did it on them.”
While Jordan is a beloved figure in the basketball community, not everyone in Salt Lake City is over the heartbreak of that championship loss — which was evident in the early turnout of the shoe release.
Just last weekend, sneakerheads formed a block-long line more than 24 hours before the release of the Travis Scott ‘Cactus Jack’ Jordan 4 retros in anticipation of buying a pair on Saturday, June 9 for $225. This wasn’t the case for the 14s.
Even decades after their initial release, Jordan sneakers are still selling out regularly. The sleek designs were ahead of their time, which is why 20-year-old Andrew Besselievre was too young to remember the Jazz-Bulls series as it happened live, but is still a fan of the product, which are being retroed for the third time for $190.
“I think it’s just the design of them, I like the leather design and their inspired kind of by a Ferrari,” said Besselievre, originally from Bountiful. “I think I just like the look of them overall. The leather, the suede toe cap, everything about them is pretty cool.”
“The Last Shot” is still a touchy subject among diehard Jazz fans, though. Even the Jazz’s official Twitter account left an Instagram comment under the NBA’s page of Jordan’s game-winner that read: “MJ pushed off.”
On one hand, it capped a legendary career but on the other hand, it ended all hopes of a title after back-to-back NBA Finals appearances.2 comments on this story
Salt Lake City native Rich Strott witnessed the series as a 14-year-old. Growing up in Utah as a diehard Bulls fan made him the target of bullying from local fans. The Air Jordan 14s were his first Jordan sneaker when they were originally released in 1998. He had to camp outside of the Ossine Shoes store for nearly four hours to score a pair, but even two decades later it was all worth it.
“I remember coming home from school on a bike, getting a milkshake thrown at me, I remember being downtown and it was actually adults just talking a lot of crap,” Strott said. “I didn’t care.
“I was pretty rebellious at that time. I was at my friend’s house and watched the whole finals series, but when Jordan got the ball I knew something was going to happen. Jordan was Jordan, it was kind of cool to see.”