Nike's Ruby Red Slippers

Nike’s Ruby Red Slippers

On February 4th, 2012 I won the lottery . . . or at least Nike’s version of it.

Before the start of the NCAA men’s basketball season, Duck fans were informed of a promotion that would have everyone wanting to be the first through the doors at Matt Knight Arena: a pair of sneakers.

These aren’t just any ordinary sneakers, though.

If you haven’t already heard, the iconic shoe and apparel giant Nike has many ties to this University. The UO is, after all known by many as “Nike University.”

That is why famed Vice President of innovation for the Beaverton based corporation/Duck track team alum, Tinker Hatfield, chose this campus to showcase his creation. An appropriate location given our flashy, trendsetting uniforms.

Hatfield took his classic Air Jordan III design and evolved it to incorporate the logo of The Pit Crew–The Ducks’ student section.  But unlike many of his past shoe releases, this former student chose to not mass-produce his innovation. “When you give something to someone and you say they’re special, they’re not so special if you say you’re going to make 3,000 more and put them up for sale,” said Hatfield.

In early October, just before the Ducks took back to the court, Nike dropped off a donation of 500 Jordan III Pit Crew Editions in Eugene and ceased production on this particular design immediately after.

As any knowledgeable sneaker head would know, with the limited release of a shoe as popular and iconic as this, collectors will go crazy to get their hands on a pair.

When my email informed me I would be among the 500 in the world handed a crisp black box with the jumpman emblazoned on the lid, I became the “envy of every shoe collector,” according to my friend, Miami of Ohio basketball player Jared Tadlock. So I double and triple-checked the message to make sure I wasn’t the victim of a cruel practical joke, changed tabs, and proceeded to Google what I had won.

I knew these things were valuable, but didn’t expect to see one of the first pairs to be auctioned on fetching nearly $3600.

Sure graduation and birthday gifts are nice, but this was a blessing from our friends at Nike that would bring me double the total I earned at my summer job in one fell swoop if I chose to sell them.

But as they say, “nothing in life is free” and in this situation there may be no truer statement. The purpose of this promotion was to reward loyal fans and provide a way for others to visibly recognize that devotion on the feet of the best fans in the country. In my personal experience, the hefty cost of getting these shoes is the guilt that accompanies owning them as a diehard fan.

It’s now almost May and I’ve held onto them this long, but that doesn’t mean I intend to keep them. I would if I financially could. Realistically I’m just another poor college student and I can’t really justify owning an item worth more than my bank account.

I plan on selling them once summer comes along and my auction competition dwindles. Until then, they’ll be sitting in climate controlled plastic back in Colorado waiting to be sold and turned into my definition of a Nike scholarship.