Sometimes people ask how do you find all these people? Well, everyone says mate a lot in England, it’s not a bad thing, we’re all mates round here. My mate Stu’s girlfriend Lou is from Derby and her mate Gemma is married to John. John collects Nike Air Jordan’s and when we heard he would only be too happy to show us, naturally we would only be too happy to be shown. John is a born and bred Derbyshire lad. At first glance I thought that seemed an unlikely place to find an Air Jordan collector and if that wasn’t a strawberry bombshell Lou had already pre-warned me (in case I had my flick comb on show) that he was also in the business of policing the streets and keeping the peace. We’re all mates here. Stuart said just act natural. I’m in the business of learning things about people and within 2 minutes of meeting John, I’ve thought to myself don’t ever judge a place by the postcard or the copper by his cover. I’m fully intrigued by the wall of boxes he’s generously got lined up to show us. To understand how we got here, we must first look in retrospect and dip our toes into the Derbyshire basketball scene, “I started playing at school. During a school game when I was like 15, someone from Derby Storm said, ‘do you want to come down and try out for the national league Derby team?’ I did, I made it and played for Derby until I hit U18s. I went on to play in the Division 3 National League for Derby and Mansfield Giants. Then I joined this fantastic job and had to give up because I couldn't play 3 times a week.”
John played in his Jordan’s until he was 17 and began adding the first few unworn pairs to his pride and precious collection. Apart from a few select retailers in London, prized Jordan’s scarcely dwindle on shoe shelves in the UK. ‘There’s only a handful of Jordan brand retailers and I think the nearest one to us is Wellgosh in Leicester. They sell them for like 150 quid and literally they’re released at midnight and by 5 past midnight they're all gone.” Early on it became apparent that if Jordan wasn’t going to come to John he was going to have to go to Jordan and with the lure of seeing the main man himself up close and other childhood hero’s like, “Penny Hardaway, Charles Barkley and Damon Stoudamire.” It was only a matter of time before John got on a plane to the Promised Land.
Orlando Magic has always been his team. It’s the first place he went on holiday and whilst everyone was lapping up Disney Land he would go to a game. “After I went for the first time I started going regularly. It’s amazing I love it over there, that’s where I want to move eventually when I retire and get my little home. Get a season ticket to Orlando, that’s my aim.” John’s sister lives in Indiana, which is handy because a lot of shops in America aren’t particularly keen on shipping to the UK, but also it means he can get in the often quite volatile queue when a new release is due. “They are released at Footlocker’s and Finished Line where they do a lottery system. You have to queue up at like 6.00 in the morning, where you're issued with a ticket and if your number comes up you can buy a pair.”
To keep my trainers in the best nick possible, I try to have at least 2 pairs on rotation at all times, they burn out quick in London, where a late night wander onto an over spilling dancefloor can often spell the beginning of the end. When John buys Jordan’s he has a different agenda entirely, I ask John if he wears any? “No, I'd like to but my collection have got to stay dead stock, because otherwise if you wear them once, even try them on in the shop, they lose their value. When I go to buy a pair, I say I want a pair dead stock, in a box that has never been touched. I put them away and double box it, this is the first time they've ever been all out together.” Michael Jordan first wore ‘Jordan 1’s’ in 1985, every season since a new version has been released (currently on Jordan 28) as previous models get ‘retro’d’ in a new colour way. John has 47 pairs of Jordan’s, 34 of which are unworn deadstock in original boxes. With John’s help we have laid out a chronological 18, for your ease of viewing.
The silver Jordan 1’s were released in 2001, there were only 2500 made and they now go for as much as £700 on eBay. The matching red and yellow Jordan 1’s are from the Old Love / New Love commemorative pack and the patent Leather numbers are as hard to find as a record you can’t find. No.6 are Jordan 3’s, which were retro’d in 2007 for the first time since Jordan wore them in 1988. John used to play in them, they’re his favourite, so he brought 3 pairs. No.12 are Jordan 6’s, "These were really hard to get. They were retro’d for the London Olympics, a lot of the USA team wore them. You could sell them on eBay for like £400 the day after they were released.”
When Jordan retired in 1998 John decided he would only collect the ones Jordan used to play in and only in the colours of Chicago Bulls. “Since I've got my house obviously I have to kind of limit myself, but I could literally just spend thousands on them. Some of them I don't tell Gemma I'm buying, I just order them and send them to my mum and dads house.” John keeps his eye on underground websites, to stay ahead of the game. “The one I check every day is called Jordansdaily.com it will show rumours and what celebrities are wearing because Fat Joe is a massive sneaker head and Jordan will send him what’s going to come out like 3 months before hand.”
THE SIGNAL’S FAT JOE